Don Hanratty
My Belovèd is mine, and I am his.
Song of Songs 2:16


Standing outside Cam's Emergency cubicle at the hospital, Kevin pulled his cell phone off his belt and hit quick dial.

"Dad?  It's Kevin."  It was midnight in L.A., and 8 a.m. in London.  Kevin could hear the sounds of clinking silverware, and knew that Alex and John were at breakfast.

"Kevin!" Alex said enthusiastically.  But Kevin's voice hadn't sounded very cheerful.  "Is everything all right."

"No."  The word caught in the young man's throat, and he coughed to cover his emotions before he could continue talking.  "I have bad news."

Alex's heart sank.  "What's going on?"

"Cam was kidnapped off the beach earlier tonight.  They took him into an empty house on the beach, and beat him badly and sexually abused him.  When Carl and I found him, thanks to the dogs, he was in a coma, but he regained consciousness on the way to the hospital.  He's in Emergency at Santa Monica--UCLA Medical Center, and I think they're gonna admit him and keep him for a day or so.  He was bleeding.  I don't know yet whether he needs surgery or not."

"No, Kevin!!"  Alex gasped.  He was shaken, and his cell phone fell from his hand on to the breakfast table.   Kevin could hear him trying to pick the phone up as John Kelley anxiously queried him to find out what was the matter.  "Cam's in the hospital," Alex told his partner as he got control of his cell again.

"I'll stay with him," Kevin assured Alex when the phone was back under control.

"I'll catch a plane home today," Alex told Kevin.  He paused.  "I'm not sure John can come with me because of work, but I'll be home by tomorrow morning.  I mean late, late evening, your time.  If I can't get the right flights, I'll book a charter."

"Good," Kevin said.  "Do you want Carl or me to pick you up?"

"No," Alex said.  "The studio will send a car for me.  I'll come right to the hospital."

"Thank you," Kevin said.  He'd thought he was all cried out, but he began weeping again at that point.  "We all need to see you real bad right now, Dad."

"I know.  Hang in there for me, will you, son?  I'll see you tonight.  I love you, Kev.  Tell Cam I love him and I'll see him soon."

Alex snapped the phone shut and began to tell an upset John Kelley what he knew, which wasn't much, before abruptly leaving the table and going to the concierge's desk in the hotel lobby to book a flight home.  He stood there at the counter thinking for a while before deciding that John should come with him.  Priorities, he told himself.  He was able to get two of the last first class seats on a plane leaving Heathrow at 10:30 a.m. London time.  He didn't care about the amenities in first class, but the leg room--that was important on a long flight.

At least we'll gain some hours flying west, he thought to himself, looking at his watch.  Then the worrying about Cam started in earnest as he headed back to finish his breakfast with John.

Kevin mentioned the dogs, Alex thought to himself as he walked.  Why are the dogs in Malibu?

"You're going home with me," Alex told his partner as he sat down.  "This is a family matter, and you're sure as hell family.  After we eat, you call the cast and crew and shut down filming 'til we get back.  I'll call the studio.  They're gonna shit a brick, but that's life."

*  *  *

Kevin walked down to a waiting room at the end of the hall in Emergency and sat down to get himself under control before going back to Cam's cubicle.  He felt totally drained and weak, empty and dejected.  And alone.

Because of the lateness of the hour he tried to be as unobtrusive as possible so that if security came by to oust street people, he didn't need to proffer an explanation about why he was there.  He slumped down in his chair, turning over in his mind the horrendous events of the past few hours.

Kevin was a realist, even at age 18.  Despite his youth, he had a growing awareness of both the heights and the depths of human nature.  He wouldn't have put his views in theological terms, but he knew that human beings were indeed fallen just as the Church said, with a cant toward selfishness and sometimes outright evil unless there was countervailing grace.  That didn't mean the Church was right about everything, but they sure as hell weren't wrong about that.

When it comes to receiving justice, there are people who deserve pay back in life for their bad treatment of others.  But Cameron MacKenzie has never treated anyone badly, Kevin thought to himself.  Ever.  He began thinking about his partner.  He's has never, ever, knowingly hurt anyone, and has the kindest heart of anyone I've ever known.  From the time we were little guys growing up together, Cam has always gone out of his way to intercede for the weak and protect those who needed it.  How could  people not admire and respect that quality in Cam?  I revere him for it.  I love him for it.  Cam's generosity of spirit has always lifted me up and made me a better person.  For Cam to have experienced what he experienced tonight is heartbreaking because it's so unjust and so undeserved.

The bond between Kevin and Cam was firm, founded long before the night when Kevin had had gone into Cam's bedroom and confessed to him his love and physical attraction for him.  They had spilled their seed together for the first time that night, the beginning of a relationship which had remained fresh as it had deepened.  What had become over the past several years a mature and totally satisfying sexual relationship for them was only the outward sign of hearts and bodies which had truly become one.  They might talk trash to each other sometimes and even occasionally disagree vehemently about something or other, but nothing could shake this relationship.  Not until now, Kevin feared.  Not unless Cam was so damaged by what had happened to him that he pushed Kevin away as a means of protecting himself from feelings too raw to manage.

Eyes red from weeping at the hurtful possibilities lying ahead, Kevin had just wiped his face with his handkerchief when he spotted a familiar figure coming down the hall from the Emergency department's trauma unit.  It was Father John Ryan from St. Dunstan's.  The priest spotted him and went over with a concerned look on his face.  Kevin stood up, and the two of them shook hands.

"Kevin?  What are you doing here?"  The priest could see that the young man had been crying.

"It's Cam," Kevin said.  He paused, reluctant to be too graphic in what he said.  "He was assaulted on the beach tonight by some homophobes, and beaten up pretty badly.  I think the Emergency doctor may admit him."

Ryan looked stricken, and pulled Kevin into a brief hug.

"What are you doing here?" Kevin asked the priest when they let go of each other.

"I was anointing a parishioner who was in a bad automobile accident tonight.  He just died."

"Oh," Kevin said.  "I'm sorry."

"Thank you," the priest said.  "Where did this happen to Cam?"

"In Malibu, about two miles from Alex's house.  He was out for a run on the beach.  Alone, unfortunately."

"I'm so sorry, Kevin," Father Ryan said.  "Do Alex and John and Catherine know about this?"

"I just talked to Dad in London, so he and John know.  Dad told me he'll catch a plane this morning and be home late tonight or early in the morning.  I'll call Catherine and Ian at a decent hour this morning."

"Good," John Ryan said.  "If possible, I'd like to see Cam."

"I was going to ask if you would look in on him."

"Of course."

"Uh, before you do, you should know..."  Kevin paused.  "You need to know that he was sexually assaulted, so this is as bad as it gets..."  Tears began to run down Kevin's face again, and that embarrassed him.

The priest groaned at the news and shut his eyes for a long moment, hanging his head.  Then he pulled Kevin into a hug again, this time a long one.

"Where is Cam now?" Ryan asked softly when he released Kevin.

"He's still down the hall in a cubicle.  Number 12, I think."

The priest nodded.  "I'll be right back," he told Kevin, and walked over to the front desk.  "Hello again," he said with a smile for the receptionist.  "I understand that another one of my parishioners is here.  Cam MacKenzie.  I'd like to see him."

"Of course, Father," the woman said.  "This is a busy night for you.  Just let me get the doctor."  She picked up the phone, punched in a number, and paged a "Doctor Rios."  The priest stood there patiently for several minutes until a dark complexioned young man in scrubs appeared at the desk.

"Hello, Doctor," Ryan said, shaking hands.  "I'm Father Ryan.  I have a parishioner who's in Cubicle 12, I'm told.  Cameron MacKenzie.  I'd like to look in on him, if I may."

"Yes, Father," Dr. Rios said.  "We've examined him, and he's going to be admitted for observation and probably subsequent surgery," he told the priest, bending a strict interpretation of the federal HIPPA law regarding confidentiality a little bit.  "We're holding him down here in Emergency for a few minutes until some sheriff's detectives get here to fill out a report.  You can see him now, or wait until he's transported to his room."

"I'd like to see him now."

"Why don't you come on back with me?" Dr. Rios said.

"I'd like to bring Cam's partner back with us too, if that would be all right."

"Of course."

Father Ryan turned, beckoned to Kevin, and they followed the doctor down the hall.

When they reached the cubicle, they found Cam lying in bed, eyes closed, his body covered by a sheet.  His face was white under his tan.  E.R. staff had obviously given him some pain medication because he was not moaning and squirming around in discomfort as he had been doing during the ambulance ride with Kevin into town.  Dr. Rios turned and went back into the corridor as Fr. Ryan and Kevin stood at Cam's bedside.

The horror of his recent experience was etched into Cam's visage.  Father Ryan had encountered many such faces in military triage units at the close of his Army chaplaincy during the year after the Iraq invasion.  He had been good at his job, but he had never grown immune to the pain and suffering in the faces of the wounded as he had anointed them and prayed for them for their continuing journey into a life of recovery, or into death.  He was well acquainted with the psychological challenges of recovery from trauma, both physical and mental.  His experience as a captain in the chaplain corps had made him both compassionate to the wounded and tough as hell when he had to be.

The priest laid a hand gently on Cam's forehead.

"Hello, Cam," the priest said softly.  Cam opened his eyes slowly and tried to smile, with only partial success.

"Hello, Father," he said slowly, his lips swollen from being punched during his ordeal.

"I'd like to anoint you for healing, if that's all right," Ryan said.

"Please," Cam said, closing his eyes again.

The priest reached into a pocket of his black suitcoat and drew out a small purple stole and an oil stock.  He put on the stole, kissing the cross embroidered on the neck of it as he did so, and screwing the cap off the oil stock, he dipped his thumb into the cotton soaked with oil blessed by the diocesan bishop.  He cupped Cam's face with both hands, and using his oil-moistened thumb, traced the sign of the cross on the young man's forehead.

"I anoint you with oil in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit," Father Ryan said, "asking the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that all your pain and suffering of body, soul and spirit being put to flight, the blessing of health may be restored to you."

"Amen," Kevin and Cam said.

After cleansing his thumb on a piece of clean cotton from his pocket and closing the oil stock, Ryan held Cam's and Kevin's hands and continued his prayers with them by leading them in the Our Father and a Hail Mary.  He concluded with a priestly blessing for Cam, placing his hands gently on the young man's head.  When he was finished, he removed the stole from his neck, kissed it again, and returned it to his pocket.

"Thank you very much, Father," Kevin said.  Cam opened his eyes again.

"I'm glad I was here for you," Father Ryan said.  "For both of you."  He studied Cam's face.  "I don't know how long you're going to be here, Cam, but I'll be more than happy to bring you Holy Communion after Mass tomorrow morning.  Either here or at home."

"I'll appreciate that," Cam whispered.  "Thank you, Father."

"Cam, I talked to Dad a few minutes ago," Kevin said.  "He's catching a plane this morning, and he'll be home late tonight or early tomorrow to be with you."

"He doesn't need to do that..." Cam said, laboring over his words.

"Well, he thinks he does," Kevin interjected, "and I agree with him.  I guess John can't come--one of them has to stay in London--but John sends his love."

Cam acknowledged that news with a crooked smile.

"I'll call Mom and Ian later this morning, at a decent hour," Kevin continued.  "You're not gonna lack for company."

"They don't need to come down here," Cam objected.  "I'm all right."

"You'll have a hard time keeping the family away," Kevin said.  "You know that."

Dr. Rios poked his head into the cubicle curtains just then.  "The sheriff's detectives are here," he said to Cam.  "Are you up to talking to them?"

Cam sighed.  "Yeah, let's get it over with," he said.

Rios ducked back out, and a moment later two beefy police detectives in plain clothes, one African-American and one Hispanic, looked in.

"Are you Cam MacKenzie?" the taller one, the Hispanic, asked.

"Yes," Cam said.  The two officers stepped into the cubicle.

"Hello, Preach," the shorter cop said by way of greeting the priest.

"'Preach?' 'Preach' is a verb, Detective," Father Ryan told the shorter policeman with a slight smile.  "I'm John, or Mr. Ryan, or Father Ryan, or Sir," he said, "whichever suits you."  His demeanor was calm but his eyes were hard.  "But I can assure you I'm not 'Preach.'"

"Sorry, Father," the taller detective said for both officers, giving the offending detective an exasperated look.

Kevin struggled not to smile at the exchange.

"And this is Mr. MacKenzie's partner, Kevin Stoltz," Ryan continued.

The detectives nodded.  The black officer introduced himself as Detective Roker and his taller companion, holding a clipboard, as Detective Suarez.

Ryan looked at Cam.  "I'm going to give you some privacy, Cam," he said.  "I'll be back to see you tomorrow morning."  He looked at Kevin.  "Please let me know if by some chance they release him before then, Kevin."

"I will," Kevin said.  "I'm going out to sit in the waiting room for right now," Kevin told Cam. 
He knew he couldn't stand to hear what Cam was going to tell the detectives.  Kevin went to Cam and kissed him on the top of his head. 

Father Ryan watched the two officers carefully for any reaction to Kevin's kiss for his partner.  The priest was straight, married and had three kids, but he was known to react fiercely to any signs of disrespect toward gays by those in authority.  His fear was that if the detectives were prejudiced against gays, they might not investigate as vigorously as they would otherwise.  Ryan was glad to see that the kiss didn't elicit even the blink of an eye from either of the policemen.

"God bless you in your work, gentlemen," Ryan said to the officers as he and Kevin exited the cubicle. 

He and Kevin said good-bye to each other in the waiting room, and the priest turned to walk away.  After a few steps, he turned around and went back to Kevin.

"Be strong for him, Kevin," Ryan said.  "He's going to need you to be strong for him."

"I know.  I will," Kevin said.

The priest patted his shoulder, and left the building.

Kevin immediately pulled out his phone and quick dialed Carl, who answered right away.

"Kevin, what the fuck!  I've been worried sick, but I didn't want to call in case you were in the middle of something.  How is he?"

"I'm sorry I didn't call before, Carl.  He's conscious, and they gave him something for pain," Kevin said.  "Father Ryan happened to be here at the hospital for an accident victim, and he just anointed Cam.  He said he'll be back tomorrow with Communion.  Cam's still in Emergency right now, and two sheriff's detectives are with him taking his statement.  The E.R. doc is going to admit him, I'm pretty sure, and they'll probably be moving him to a room in a few minutes.  I'm going to stay here at the hospital tonight.  By the way, we're at the Santa Monica--UCLA Medical Center."

"All right," Carl said.  He filled Kevin in on what he'd been doing.  "I picked up Casey from Mr. and Mrs. Miller after you left in the ambulance.  They didn't hardly want to give him up.  Sean Miller was furious and started cussing a blue streak about what had happened to Cam.  And Susan Miller started to cry.

"Anyway, I took Casey home and fed him and changed him and put him down a couple hours ago.  He didn't let out a peep, and he's sleeping right now.  I'm gonna sleep in your room tonight so I'm close to him in case he wakes up.  I washed the sand off the dogs, and they're sitting here looking up at me right now."

"Give them some treats before you crash," Kevin said.  "They did a great job for us tonight.  And I really appreciate everything you've done, Carl.  I called Alex, by the way.  It's morning in London, and he's probably catching a plane for L.A. as we speak.  John probably has to stay there, but Alex will probably be home by tonight.  Late tonight or early tomorrow morning.  Cam objected when I told him I'd called, but deep down it's going to mean the world to him to see Alex right now.  I'll call Catherine and Ian in the morning."

"Way to go, Kev," Carl said.

"Fill Maria in on what happened tonight when she comes to work in the morning, will ya?"

"Yes.  Listen, I called Andy after you and Cam left in the ambulance, and filled him in on what's happened and who we think did it," Carl said.

"He won't say anything to anybody before I call Catherine and Ian in the morning, will he?" Kevin asked.

"No.  But he was one pissed off boy, I can tell you that.  You don't want Andy mad atcha.  His exact words were, 'I'm gonna catch a plane tonight and come down there and kill those motherfuckers!!!'  I think he would probably do it, too!  I had to talk fast to keep him from coming down here for some speedy vengeance.  Seriously.  Not that I wouldn't like to have him here with us right now."

"I know you would.  Hang on to Andy, Carl," Kevin said quietly.  "As much as we can hang on to anyone.  You've got a good one there."  He cleared his throat.  "Are you all right, Carl?"  Kevin knew Carl must be thinking about being brutalized by his own father because of what had happened to Cam.

"I'm good.  Thanks for asking.  Do you know when you'll be home?"

"I'm not sure.  I'll see ya when I get there.  Thanks again for everything, bud.  We'll talk in the morning.  Love ya!"  Kevin snapped his phone shut and dropped into a chair.  He stretched out, closing his eyes for a little respite.

*  *  * 

The two detectives spent about an hour eliciting from Cam what he could remember about his horrible evening with Eric Clymer, Rory Lomer and Peter Murtha.  He told the policemen immediately that he didn't know the names of the three men who had waylaid him on the beach and subsequently brutalized him.  But he recognized them from an altercation at Disneyland not long before and then seeing them on the UCLA campus and running on Malibu Beach.  After making clear that a fourth person, Art Smith, had nothing to do with his ordeal, he gave them his name as someone who would know the names and whereabouts of his tormentors.

Cam struggled with his emotions as he talked to the officers.  He stopped his narrative several times to recover his composure as he labored to tell the story of how he was captured on the beach, dragged into the empty house, strung up and beaten everywhere on his body, awakened with smelling salts when he passed out, sodomized with huge dildoes, had his penis whipped with strands of leather, and then finally lowered to the floor and raped by all three guys before passing out for good, only waking up in the ambulance with Kevin on the way to the hospital.

The burly detectives were surprisingly gentle with him, occasionally stopping him to clarify his story.  At one point Detective Roker stepped out into the hall to ask Dr. Rios if staff had conducted a rape kit on Cam.  They had.  Roker told doctor that the lab might find more than one set of DNA in the semen specimen if the perpetrators hadn't used condoms, and asked the physician to add that information to notes accompanying the rape kit.  Rios responded and telephoned the lab immediately.

As they wrapped up their inquiry and prepared to leave, Detective Suarez had one last question for Cam.

"Your home address is in Malibu.  Are you related to Alex MacKenzie?" he asked.

Cam nodded.  "He's my dad."

"I love his movies," Suarez said.

"He'll be home from London tonight, and I know he'll want to talk to you guys."

"Good.  We'll want to do that."

"Cameron, we're going to do everything we can to catch these guys," Detective Roker added, offering his hand to the young man.  "We'll be back in touch with you for any clarifications we need or when we make some arrests.  I'm confident we'll have these guys in custody soon."  He paused, clearing his throat.  "We're sorry this happened to you."

"Thank you."

Suarez shook hands with Cam as well, and the two detectives took their leave, heading to the waiting room to interview Kevin.  He was sound asleep in his chair.  Suarez patted his arm gently to wake him up.  Kevin sat up, rubbed his eyes, and checked his watch.  It was 1:30 a.m. by then.

"Sorry to wake you up, but we have just a couple more questions," Detective Suarez said.

"Go ahead," Kevin said.

"Your partner mentioned that you and he had had an encounter with the three alleged perps not to long ago at Disneyland," Suarez said.  "Can you describe that for us?"

"Yes, sir.  Cam and I were at the park with our family--three adults and a bunch of guys our age from San Francisco and San Rafael--our stomping grounds before we moved down here to L.A.  We were just finishing up a great day at the park and were heading toward the exit when Cam kissed my cheek.  That upset some guys walking behind us, who began to harass us about being gay.  They threatened to get physical, and when their ringleader started getting aggressive, one of our crew knocked the guy down on the pavement with a karate kick.  The aggressor's name was 'Eric,' and he was pissed off about being knocked down, to say the least.  We saw Eric and his guys later several times on the beach in Malibu when we were out running, and they harassed us verbally and gave us the finger every time.  Family members can confirm that.  I'm not positive, but I think these guys are entering freshmen at UCLA, just like we are.  Anyway, we knew they didn't like Cam and me because we're gay, but we never dreamed they do anything like this to one of us."

"Cam mentioned that a kid named 'Art Smith' can give us the identity of the three guys who may have kidnapped Cam on the beach.  Is that true?" Roker asked Kevin.

"Yes, I think so.  Smith used to be friends with Eric and the other two guys, but from what we've seen on campus, he doesn't hang with them anymore.  I'd be surprised if he had anything to do with what went down last night."

The two detectives asked Kevin a few more questions, and then stood up to take their leave.  Kevin rose to shake hands with first Roker and then Suarez, each of whom handed him a business card.  Suarez held on to Kevin's hand a little longer than customary, and cleared his throat.

"I know what a terrible thing this is for your partner, and for you.  But don't let it get you down.  Don't let it break you.  We're going to get the guys who did this, and your partner will heal with your help.  Call one of us if you need anything."

The words were simple, but they moved Kevin.  He hadn't expected to hear them from presumably straight, veteran cops who had obviously been around the block a few times.  But they'd been said, nevertheless.

"Thank you both so much," Kevin said.  "Alex MacKenzie will be home tomorrow from London, and if you happen to call with an update on the case and can spare a minute, I'd like to have you stop by the house and let me introduce you."

"That's nice of you," Roker said.  "I know we'll have some information for you soon, so we'll call."

The detectives nodded and left the waiting room, and Kevin sank back down in his chair and closed his eyes.  Ten minutes later he had dozed off again, envisioning as he did one of his hands around Eric Clymer's throat.  The other hand, balled into a fist, hit the man in the face.  Over and over and over and over he hit him.  He hit him until the features of the young man's face were pulverized and there was nothing left but mush.  One more hit and the bloody spray from his efforts vaporized into nothingness, and the face disappeared altogether.

*  *  *

Kevin woke up an hour and a half later.  Looking around, he saw there were still people coming and going in Emergency, some on gurneys and some under there own power.  He rubbed his eyes, stood up and stretched to get the kinks out of his back, and went to the front desk.

"Hi," he said to the receptionist.  "Anything going on with Cam MacKenzie?"

"Yes," the young woman said.  "He's been admitted, and they took him up to his room about forty-five minutes ago.  I would have told you, but I didn't want to wake you up."  She ripped a piece of note paper off of a pad, wrote a room number on it and handed it to Kevin.  "This is a private room, so you can go on up and stay with him if you want.  When you leave the hospital, if you would, will you stop by the Financial office and complete Mr. MacKenzie's insurance information?  He gave us his insurance card out of his wallet, but we need a few more details."

"I will.  Thanks for everything you all did for Cam tonight," Kevin told her.  She smiled and nodded, and he headed for the elevators.

He found Cam's room upstairs without any trouble, and there was his partner, sleeping, hooked up to several IV's.  He walked to the other side of the bed, and taking a quick glance toward the hallway, eased himself up on the bed next to Cam.  Sometimes it's easier to ask forgiveness than to get permission, he thought to himself, turning on his side to face Cam.  Kevin lay there listening to Cam breathe.  He tried to doze off, but he couldn't.

He knew he would have offered himself up in an instant to take Cam's place down in that beach house last night.

Kevin lay in the bed with Cam for several hours with no one disturbing them until a nurse came in.  She was nice about it, but made Kevin get up and sit in a chair.

"You could squeeze one of the patient's IV tubes if you fell asleep," she told Kevin.

"I understand," Kevin said.

After the nurse left, he used the room's bathroom, and then sat down in an easy chair after pulling it over to the bed.  He leaned forward and rested his head on Cam's bed, and fell asleep.

Waking up about 5 a.m., Kevin kissed a sleeping Cam and left the hospital just as the sky was lightening in the east.  It was too early to go to the hospital's financial office, so he didn't worry about that.  A taxi had just dropped someone off and was sitting at the entrance to Emergency, motor running.  Kevin opened the back door and climbed in.  Traffic was light, and he was home in twenty minutes.  He paid the driver and tipped him, and went in the back door, shutting off the alarm.  The dogs were glad to see him, and after letting them out into the front yard and sitting on the deck while they did their business, he let them back into the house and fed them.  Maria wasn't there yet.

Kevin trudged up the stairs and went into his and Cam's room.  It was neat and orderly, thanks to Maria's efforts the day before.  Carl was sleeping in the bed and Casey in his crib.  After bending down and kissing the little boy, Kevin stripped off his clothes, cleaned his teeth, and stepped into the shower.  He set the shower head for "massage," and let the hot water bombard the sore muscles in his neck and back as he moved around slowly to let the stream slam every sore spot on his body.  He wished he could let it massage his mind and spirit as well, and wash away the despondency there.

"Kevin?"  He heard Carl's voice over the sound of the rushing water.


"Just checking," Carl said, standing there in his boxers.  He opened the glass door and looked at Kevin.  "You need anything?"  His eyes brushed over Kevin's package, naturally, but what really caught his attention were the dark circles under Kevin's eyes.

"No thanks.  I'm good."

Carl nodded, closed the shower door and went back to Kevin and Cam's bed, leaving his remaining questions for later.

After he had showered and shaved, Kevin pulled on a clean pair of boxers and slid into bed on the other side of Carl, and fell asleep immediately.  But it was an intermittent sleep.  He awakened repeatedly, his mind full of recriminations that he had not been on the beach running with Cam when he had been waylaid, and fears about any lasting damage which his attackers had done to his partner.  Carl and Casey slumbered on. 

*  *  *

Eric Clymer, Rory Lomer and Peter Murtha had been sitting on Clymer's front deck the previous night when the ambulance and sheriff's police had begun showing up, mars lights piercing the darkness at the vacant house two doors away.  The guys had heard a dog bark on the beach twenty minutes beforehand, but paid no attention to it.

They paid no attention because they were all completely stoned from a combination of beer, weed and crack.  They had just fired up Eric's crack pipe again to bring what for them had been an exhilarating evening to a close.  Eric's parents were out of town for a few days, leaving the young men free to do drugs at his house with no interference.

Eric was confident that their victim would be too ashamed of being fucked in the ass and otherwise sexually abused that he wouldn't identify his assailants to the authorities.  He was sure enough about it that before the police had arrived, he'd been ready to suggest that the three of them go back to the scene of their recent activities and fuck up Cam some more.  They'd left him tied up on the floor for that very eventuality.

"How the hell did they find him so fast?" Murtha asked his companions, slurring his words.

"I dunno," Eric said.  "I feel deprived.  I wanted another go at his pansy ass."  He passed the pipe and lighter to Rory, who fired it up to finish off the pipe's current load.  There was a lot more where that came from.

The three of them sat there on the deck laughing and talking crazy while watching the police comb the yard and presumably the house for clues as to who had beaten and abused the victim.

They won't find anything, Clymer thought to himself.  Before leaving Cam tied up on the floor and vacating the place, Eric had been careful to have Rory and Peter remove all their sex toys and implements of torture from the house, and even to wipe their fingerprints off the sliding glass door leading to the deck.  It was the perfect crime, and he knew Cam would be complicit in it by not telling who had done it.  Fucking faggot!  The shame of seeing his name in the paper as a victim, maybe with an accompanying picture, would be too much for Cam to take.

Rory and Peter were staying at Clymer's house that night, and when they were all too fucked up on drugs to stay awake, they had gone to bed feeling good about themselves and what they had done to Cam.

*  *  *

It was seven a.m. when Kevin finally woke up for good at Alex's.  He lay with his eyes focussed on the ceiling, instinctively trying to keep his mind blank.  But the horror of Cam's condition again took possession of his brain, and he unconsciously groaned aloud.

He glanced around.  The room was empty; Carl and Casey were gone.

Kevin lay quietly in bed for a few minutes, centering his thoughts and preparing himself mentally to make the telephone calls he had to make.  He climbed out of bed, put on a clean T-shirt and some shorts, and went down to the kitchen.  Maria was feeding Casey as Carl sat at the breakfast table and watched.

Maria's eyes filled with tears when she saw Kevin.  Putting down the spoon, she stood and went to Kevin and pulled him into her arms.
  Her warmth seeped into Kevin's body, and he needed that.  He'd take all of it he could get.

"I'm sorry," she whispered to him.  That was all she said.  She stepped back a pace and touched his face.  Kevin's eyes watered.

"Is there anything I can do?" Maria asked.  "Anything at all?"

"You're here for us, and that's all we need right now," Kevin told Maria.  "It means more than you know."

"Do you want some breakfast?" Maria asked.

"No thanks.  I have to call Catherine and Ian.  I'll just take a cup of coffee with me."

She nodded as Kevin went over to the coffee pot and poured a cup, leaving it black.  He turned and leaned against the counter, looking at Carl.

"How was Cam when you left the hospital," Carl asked.

"Sleeping.  He seems fairly alert when he's awake, but I think he's kind of numbed out.  That's a good thing.  It's probably the pain medication.  And after what he's been through, I'm glad he's not feeling much."

Carl studied him, saying nothing.

"Carl, are you going to school?" Kevin asked.

"I'll do whatever you want me to do," Carl said.

"Why don't you go?" Kevin suggested.  "There's no sense in all of us going down the academic tubes."

"Cam wouldn't want that to happen," Carl agreed.  "Do you want me to go to the dean's office and fill them in on what's going on."

"Thanks, bud.  But I'll do it, or else Alex will call him when he gets home."

"'K," Carl said, checking his wristwatch.  "I guess I better book, then."  He stood up and looked at Kevin.  "Maybe we can run later.  I think we need it."

"Yep," Kevin said.  "Laters."

Carl went to Kevin and gave him a hug, and then headed out.

Kevin sipped his coffee in silence, watching Maria take care of Casey and clean up the kitchen.  He steeled himself to do what he had to do.

"I'll be in the den, Maria," he said, pushing away from the counter.

She nodded sadly in response as Kevin went to the den, shutting the door behind him and sitting down on the big leather couch.  Reaching over , he took the Alex's landline receiver out of its cradle and punched in Catherine's cell phone number.  It rang, and then he heard Catherine's voice.  She sounded happy.  That won't last long, Kevin thought to himself.


"Kevin..." Catherine said.  She stopped talking when she heard the sorrow in his tone.  "What's wrong?" she said after a moment's silence.

"Sit down.  I need to talk with you for a minute."

"I'm sitting in my office at home right now."

"Mom, Cam's been hurt..."  Kevin throat closed up and he stopped.  The words didn't want to come out.

"Tell me," Catherine said, steeling herself for the bad news.

"He was running alone on the beach alone last night, and some guys beat him up pretty bad."   Kevin paused.  "For being gay, we think."  He paused again.  "They sexually molested him along with beating him, and he's in the hospital.  He may have to have surgery."

"Please God, no, Kevin."  He knew without hearing a sound that Catherine had begun to weep silently as she held the phone.

"I stayed at the hospital with him until this morning.  He's at Santa Monica--UCLA Medical Center, by the way."

Catherine regained control of herself.  "Does Alex know?"

"Yes, I talked to him last night in London when he was having breakfast.  He's on a plane on the way home now.  He should be here by late tonight or early tomorrow morning if there aren't any delays."

"Good," Catherine said.  "I'll catch a commuter flight in San Francisco later this morning and see you this afternoon.  Are you going to call Ian?"

"He's my next call.  Has he gone to the office?"


"I'll call him there."

"Thank you for letting me know, Kevin.  Cam's life isn't in danger, is it?"

"No.  Not physically, anyway."

"Then we're going to be all right because he's going to be all right.  He will heal.  In every way.  I want you to have faith, Kevin."

"I'm trying, Mom.  Speaking of faith, Father Ryan from St. Dunstan's happened to be at the hospital last night for an accident victim from his parish, and he anointed Cam.  He's bringing him Holy Communion this morning."

"That makes me feel better," Catherine said.  "I love you, Kevin.  Tell Cam I love him, and I'll see you both later today."

"'I love ya, Mom.  'Bye."  Kevin pushed the disconnect button and sat there on the couch in a stupor for a few minutes.

Catherine sat at her desk and had a good cry.  Some words by Aeschylus ran through her mind:

                        "In our sleep, pain which cannot forget
                         falls drop by drop upon the heart
                         until, in our own despair,
                         against our will, comes wisdom
                         through the awful grace of God."

*  *  *

Kevin roused himself and punched Ian's office number into the phone.  The receptionist and then Ian's secretary put him right through as soon as he identified himself.

"Kevin!  This is a nice surprise," Ian said.

"I have bad news, Ian.  Cam's been hurt."

"What happened?"  Ian sounded stunned.

Kevin stumbled through a description of what had occurred since Cam had been accosted.  Ian listened in silence.

"Who did it?" Ian asked.

"We think it was three of the four guys you confronted one morning on the beach for being assholes.  You remember.  We passed them going the opposite direction when we were out running."

"They're going to wish they were never born, I promise you," Ian said quietly.  "Do Catherine and Alex know?"

"Yes, I just finished talking with Catherine.  She says she wants to catch a commuter flight down here later this morning.  And Alex is on a plane from London right now.  I talked to him last night, at 8 a.m. London time."

"Good.  Maybe Catherine and I can fly to L.A. together.  What's Cam's prognosis?" Ian asked.

"Physically?  Good, I think.  He's not in danger of dying.  Mentally, I don't know yet."

Ian sighed.  "All right.  Catherine and I will see you in a few hours.  Hang in, Kev.  Love you, boy."

"Same here, Ian.  See ya soon."

*  *  *

Ian had no sooner hung up with Kevin than Catherine had called him.  While they talked, Catherine consulted the computer on her desk and read Ian the schedules for commuter flights out of San Francisco International for L.A.  They settled on one due to depart at 1 p.m.  Ian said he'd make their reservations, and they could meet at the airport.

"Good, Ian.  I'll see you there, then."

"Catherine, is Mary available?" Ian asked when the arrangements were out of the way.

"Yes, she's in the kitchen with Rosa feeding the boys before they head for school, I think."

"Will you put her on the line?  I'm going to fill her in on what's going on and ask her to pack me a bag.  That way I won't have to come back to San Rafael and then go to the airport.  Will you can bring it with you when you come?"

"Of course.  I'll put Mary on the line."  Catherine put the phone on hold, and went to the kitchen.  "Mary, Ian's on the line for you."

Mary looked surprised.  She hit the flashing button on the kitchen phone.  "Sweetheart?  Everything all right?"

"No," Ian said.  "Kevin just called me.  Cam was beaten up last night pretty badly, and he's in the hospital.  Santa Monica--UCLA Medical Center.  Catherine and I need to go down there.  We're going to try to catch a commuter flight out of San Francisco International at one o'clock.  Will you pack me a bag?  Make sure I have another dress shirt and suit.  Catherine said she'll bring my bag with her to the airport."

"Of course."
Mary groaned.  "Is Cam all right?

"He's not in danger of death, but may have to have surgery, according to Kevin."  Ian hesitated.  "Hon, he was sexually molested as well as being beaten up.  It's serious enough that Alex is on the way home from London."

"Oh, Ian!"  She was upset and stopped talking for a long minute.  "I'll have your bag ready for Catherine to take," she said finally.  "Give Cam and Kevin and Carl my love, will you?"

"You know I will.  I love you.  I'll miss you and the boys, Mary.  See you when we get home."

"'Bye, dear."  Mary hung up the phone and went back into the breakfast nook.  Catherine and Rosa were there, sitting with the boys.  Catherine had obviously shared the news.  Rosa was weeping, and the boys were silent and distressed, looking down at the table and not at each other.

William spoke up.  "Can I go to L.A. with you?" he asked Catherine, and then looked at Mary.

Mary studied her older son's face.  He was clearly upset.

She thought about it.  "William, I just don't think this is the time," Mary finally said.  "There's nothing you can do right now.  I promise you that when Cam gets home from the hospital, your dad and I will send you down there if you still want to go."

"Fair enough, I guess," William said.  "I'll want to go, I know that."

"We all will," Berto Hernandez said.  Dan Emrick nodded, looking upset.

"All right," Mary said, gathering her inner resources.  "Come on, guys, get moving, or you're going to be late for school."  She paused.  "If you have a spare minute today, say a prayer for Cam.  And for Kevin and Carl."

The boys cleared off the table for Rosa, then grabbed their book bags and trooped out the back door and down the stairs to the garage.  It was a quiet ride to school that day in Ian's big Navigator as William drove them to school.

*  *  *

Catherine and Ian caught the one o'clock commuter plane in San Francisco just as they had planned, and got settled into their seats.  The plane took off right on time.  It had been a busy few hours for both of them.  Ian had to designate another lawyer in his firm to monitor picking the jury for a trial that was just starting, and Catherine chose her best and brightest graduate student to teach her classes for a few days.  She also called the dean of arts and sciences and then Fr. Reilly, the university president, to let them know why she would be out.  The dean was sympathetic, and Fr. Reilly seemed hard-hit by the news.

Ian looked over at Catherine as they sat side by side on the plane.  She never wore a lot of makeup.  But today she had applied a little more to conceal the fact that she had been weeping.  She looked almost normal despite how wounded she was feeling.

Inevitably they got around to talking about what had happened to Cam, and Catherine opened up about her fears for her son.

"You know, these days Cam and everybody his age tend to think they're so cool and in control," Catherine said.  "And compared to what I was at their age, I guess they really are.  They're much more aware at their age and keyed into what life is all about.   I guess it's because of the instant communications in society today, even if their knowledge is vicarious in many instances.  They think this knowledge helps make them invincible.  In spite of this shared sense of invincibility, though, Cam has always had a beautiful innocence about him. His innocence has led him to trust people almost too much, at least until they prove they aren't worthy of that trust.  And by and large people have trusted him back.

"I suppose we all lose at least some of our innocence and trust of others over time," she mused.  "Life just leaches them away, sometimes without our even being aware of it.  But I'm scared to death that whatever was done to him last night has damaged that innocence of his beyond repair.  I'm afraid that his hurt will make him self-protective and maybe even callous.  And that would be a tragedy, because the world needs to see some innocence in others from time to time so we remember what our own was like.  In its way, nnocence inspires hope, and life without hope is neither energized nor productive."

Ian didn't say anything, but he reached over and took Catherine's hand and held it for a long time.

They were lost in their own thoughts for a while, and then Ian broke the silence.

"Catherine, I've been thinking that Cam may--and I'm only saying 'may'--need some counseling after he's released from the hospital," he said.  "An incident like this is so hurtful."

"I've been thinking the same thing.  I may give my colleague, Amanda Smith, a call.  Dr. Smith did such a great job with Carl after he was abused, as you know, and she may have a recommendation for someone we can contact in L.A. for help.  It's something to think about, anyway."

"I agree," Ian said.

They continued to talk about the potential need for followup after Cam walked away from the hospital.  Both of them knew that his release from the Santa Monica--UCLA Medical Center would only be the beginning of the total healing process.  The psychological part of that process could likely be a long one.

After they landed in L.A at 2:15, they collected their luggage, Ian rented a car, and they went right to the Santa Monica--UCLA Medical Center to see Cam.  Kevin had blown off his classes and was back there at Cam's bedside, and emotions raw, he greeted the two of them with hugs and kisses.  Cam was sleeping on the bed, IV's still connected to his body.

"How is he doing?" Catherine asked Kevin quietly, going to Cam's bedside and kissing him gently on the forehead as Kevin and Ian stood by.

"He's getting some of his strength back, I think," Kevin said. 
"Father Ryan was here with communion early this morning just like he promised, and Cam told me he appreciated that.  Father was here and gone even before I got here.  The doctors still want to operate on him to repair his torn rectum.  Cam signed the papers giving permission for that this morning, and they're going to take him up to surgery early tomorrow morning.  They've put him on a liquid diet and antibiotics," he added.

Catherine looked worried and her eyes watered, and Ian put his arm around her.  Cam heard voices, and woke up from his nap.

"Hey Mom, Ian," he said through still swollen lips.  "You didn't have to come down here."

Wiping her eyes, Catherine bent over him and kissed him on the cheek, and then Ian kissed him on the forehead.

"Hey, champ," Ian said as he straightened up.  "Yes, we did need to come down here.  Where else would we be?"

"Well, thanks," Cam said.  "I'm really glad to see you."

As they started to talk, Kevin pulled up the easy chair for Catherine and straight back chairs for himself and Ian.  Catherine began to question Cam about the surgery scheduled for the next morning.  He told her what he knew, and then moved on to ask about the guys in San Rafael and how they were doing.

Catherine and Ian filled him in on the latest news.

"William is worried about you," Catherine told him.  "He wanted to get on the plane with us today.  So did the other boys."

"Well..." Cam said, and tears began pouring from his eyes.  It was the first time he'd really let go of his emotions.

*  *  *

Carl was eating a really late lunch at the UCLA student union when he saw Art Smith go through the food line and then stand there, looking around for a good table.  Carl raised an arm and beckoned Art over.  Looking a little surprised, the young man went over to Carl's table.

"I didn't think you'd want to be around me right now," Art said, pulling out a chair and sitting down.

"Whaddaya mean?" Carl asked.

"The sheriff's police contacted me about Clymer, Lomer and Murtha," he said. "They wanted to know their full names and where they live and as much about their class schedules as I knew.  They wouldn't tell me what the assholes had done, but I had an idea that it might have something to do with you guys.  Anyway, I answered all the cops' questions."

"Well, it'll be in the papers tomorrow, so I may as well tell you," Carl said.  "We think they are responsible for waylaying Cam on the beach last night, dragging him into a vacant house near Clymer's place, and beating him up and sodomizing him.  He's in the hospital right now.  Our housekeeper called me on my cell a few minutes ago and told me that reporters are already calling the house for comments on the police report."

"Oh, fuck!" Art Smith said, looking pale and upset.  "I'm really sorry, man.  Cam isn't going to die or anything, is he?"

"No.  But those pricks really fucked him up.  He's going to have to have surgery."

"Well, shit!" Smith picked up his plastic fork to eat some mac and cheese, but threw it down and put his hands over his face for a long minute.  When he lowered his hands, he looked Carl in the eye.  "I was hoping that Eric was just making idle threats.  That he wouldn't really go through with hurting anybody."

Carl said nothing, and then nodded toward the center of the room.  Eric Clymer, Rory Lomer and Peter Murtha were just putting their backpacks down on a table to save it, and heading toward the food line.  They had just selected their food and gone back to their table when they received some unwanted company.

Detectives Roker and Suarez along with three uniformed deputies approached their table.

"Eric Clymer, Rory Lomer and Peter Murtha?" Detective Suarez asked.

The young men nodded.

"You're under arrest for conspiracy, kidnapping, aggravated assault and aggravated sexual assault," Suarez said.  He seemed pleased about this arrest.

"We haven't done anything," Clymer protested.  That fucking faggot must have ratted us out, he thought to himself.  He wasn't supposed to do that!

"Stand up and put your hands behind your backs.  Now!" Suarez barked.

Faces pale, the three young men stood and were hooked up.  The uniforms patted them down, finding only a pen knife on Lomer which they confiscated.

"What about our books?" Clymer asked plaintively.

"What about 'em?" Roker asked.

"We can't leave 'em here," Clymer whined.  "They're expensive."

"Not our problem," Roker said.  "Your classroom days may well be over anyway."  He looked at the uniforms.  "Get these assholes outta here," he told them.

And thus began the best perp walk Carl had ever seen as the group wended their way through tables of gawking students.  TV and still cameras immortalized the scene for the public's later viewing pleasure.

Carl and Art Smith went to the front doors of the student union with a number of other students to watch as each arrestee was put in his very own squad car for transport to the sheriff's office.  The three guys obviously weren't being given the opportunity to conspire on a story.

Carl wasted no time in pulling out his cell and quick dialing Kevin to give him the good news.  He described the perp walk.

Kevin was jubilant.  "You don't know how glad I am to hear that!  The two detectives we talked to when Cam was admitted seemed pretty committed to finding who did this to him.  They sure came through!"  Kevin stopped talking, and Carl heard him giving the news to whoever was in the room.  The voices sounded happy.

"Who's there with you?" Carl asked.

"Mom and Ian just got here."

"Tell 'em 'hi,' and that I'll see 'em later."

"Will do, dude.  Will you call Maria and let her know that Ian and Mom are here, and that Dad should be here sometime late tonight or early tomorrow morning?  Just so things are ready for 'em?  And let her know that the guys who messed Cam up have been arrested."

"Yep," Carl said.  "Laters."

Kevin relayed Carl's message of greeting to Ian and Catherine.

Cam, Kevin, Catherine and Ian sat talking animatedly for a few minutes, feeling good about the arrests, and then Ian left to find Cam's attending physician.  He wanted to know more about the details of the surgery which would be performed, and the credentials of the surgeon.  The attending fired up a computer at the nurses' station and let him read the surgeon's vita right off the screen.  After getting the surgeon's telephone number from the attending, Ian called him.  He introduced himself and explained that he was Cam's friend and attorney, and although the surgeon was reluctant to say too much without a signed release of information from Cam, he did outline his goals for the surgery and the hoped-for outcomes for his patient.

Ian seemed pleased when he went back to Cam's room after thirty minutes.

"Cam, from everything I can find out, you're in good hands," Ian said.  "Your attending is a Stanford grad, so you know he's good," Ian grinned with northern California regional pride.  "And your surgeon graduated from Harvard.  He'll do a good job for you."

"Thanks, Ian," Cam said.  That was encouraging.

They all sat there talking until 5 p.m., when Catherine and Ian decided to go to Alex's house to freshen up, get settled, and eat supper.

Kevin wouldn't leave the hospital, although he did walk Catherine and Ian down to the front door.  They were all taken aback when they spotted a newspaper vendor box in the front hall with the current edition of the L.A. Times in it.  The top headline was:  MOVIE DIRECTOR'S SON KIDNAPPED AND MOLESTED.  The column subheading said, Three Malibu youths under arrest.

Ian looked at Catherine.  "Well, we knew the publicity was inevitable."

She nodded.

Ian walked over to the box, put some quarters in the slot, and removed a paper to take to Alex's.

Kevin didn't buy one.  He didn't want Cam to see it, realizing of course that the TV news would be full of the story anyway, and couldn't be avoided.

"Kevin, we'll be back after supper," Catherine told him, taking him into her arms and kissing him.  "Please don't get discouraged, now.  Cam is going to be all right.  Count on that.  He's a fighter."

"I know he is," Kevin said.

"Do you want us to bring you some food when we come back?" Ian asked him.

"No, thanks.  I'll get something in the cafeteria."

"OK.  See you in a couple of hours," Ian promised, giving him a hug.

Kevin nodded and trudged back down the hall toward the elevators.

He walked toward his partner's room after reaching the right floor, and struggled to put on a happy face for Cam's sake.  It wasn't easy.  But he was a fighter, too.

© 2010 Don Hanratty