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


Alexander MacKenzie awakened with a start.
  Their direct flight from Kennedy Airport in New York to LAX had just landed, and the airplane began to taxi toward the arrival gate.

"We're home," John told him with a yawn, uncoupling his hand from Alex's.  Covered by a single blanket, they'd been comfortably holding hands for the last hour or so of the flight.

"Oh, man," Alex said, yawning and stretching in his seat as they taxied along the tarmac.  He and John had both slept part of the way from London to New York, and then some of the way during the last lap of their trip to Los Angeles.  Fed and pampered in first class, they had arrived relatively refreshed given the total number of hours they had been in the air, cooped up.

Their trip from London had been as painless as current technology could make it, Alex guessed.  But he always mused when on a trip of any great distance how wonderful it would be if there were a machine that would disassemble a traveler's molecules in his home and reassemble them at his destination, all in a split second.  Luggage too, of course.  That was science fiction for the future, Star Trek stuff, but people in that day would look back and think about how primitive current travel methods were.  Including airplanes.  People sealing themselves in huge aluminum tubes which were forced through the air from one location to another!  Laughable!

It was midnight, California time, and Alex and John each reset his watch as they prepared to disembark.

Alex began to think about his and John's immediate mission, the reason for their trip.  Cam.  A no doubt deeply wounded Cam.

Now it was time to bring his mental and emotional resources as a father and a man to bear on Cam in what Alex suspected would be a long period of recovery.  What had happened to Cam, as described by Kevin, must have been horrible for him.  And it was horrible for the whole family.  Debilitating.  Destructive.  Tendrils of fear and remorse for his boy clutched at Alex's chest.

What do you say to a young man, someone as kind and gentle and beautiful as Cam is, when he has been so terribly wounded, not only physically, but perhaps more importantly, at the heart and soul of his being?  Pure evil makes the best of us uncertain, Alex thought to himselfHe suspected that there was nothing one could say, at least in the short term, that would have real meaning.  All one could do in the here and now was to be there for his boy, hold him, let him know how much he was loved.  And let him know somehow that love could and would heal us over time.

He had missed being around Cam and Kevin and Carl more than he had thought possible after he'd gone to London.  In fact, he loved the entire extended family that Catherine and the Carsons had created, and that he and John felt they shared.  Being around the young guys always energized him and stimulated his creativity, and John had admitted the same thing when it came to himself.  Their time with the extended family in Big Sur before going to England had cemented those familial bonds more than Alex had thought possible.

He and John walked away from their gate and took the escalator down to the baggage claim.  The uniformed driver sent by the studio was waiting for them down there.  After they greeted him and introduced themselves, he collected their luggage, loaded it on to a cart, and wheeled it out to their limo.  He put it in the trunk of their car, and Alex instructed him to go to the Santa Monica--UCLA Center.

Alex continued to think about Cam and the family as they drove.  He was sure that he could count on Catherine to come down to Los Angeles at a time like this, and wondered whether Ian and/or Mary would come as well.  He especially valued Catherine's and Mary's abundant love of their extended family and Ian's savvy about so many things.  He wanted to hear their point of view about follow-up with Cam after he was released from the hospital.

But above all, Alex wanted to consult and work with Kevin to make sure they were all on the same page for Cam's sake.  Respect for Cam and Kevin and for their relationship demanded no less, even though the couple were only eighteen.

When they reached the hospital, Alex made note of the driver's cell phone number, and let the man go and get some coffee somewhere if he wanted.  He would call for the car when he and John needed it.

The hospital's front desk was deserted, so Alex called Kevin's cell.  Kevin was upstairs at Cam's bedside with his phone on vibrate so as not to awaken Cam, and gave Alex the room number.  There was no one in the elevator with them, and Alex put an arm around John and kissed him on the cheek.  They looked at each other somberly.

They were walking down the hall toward Cam's room when a young nurse at the nurses' station stopped them.

"Good morning.  I'm Alex MacKenzie, and this is my partner, John Kelley," Alex told her.  "We want to see our son, Cam MacKenzie."

"He already has a visitor in his room," the nurse said.  "We don't want too many people in Mr. MacKenzie's room at one time, especially at this hour.  He's going up to surgery in the morning."

"I understand that," Alex said.  "I'm not trying to flaunt your rules, but we just flew in from England to see Cam before he's operated on.  And we intend to do that."

"I can't allow it," the nurse said.

"Are you the charge nurse?" Alex asked.


"I'd like to talk to him or her."

"Very well."  The nurse dialed the charge nurse's pager on the telephone, and a pleasant looking, middle-aged woman joined them at the nurse's station right away.  Her name tag said "Carolyn Chandler."

Alex explained who they were, how long they'd been traveling, and why it was necessary for him and John to see Cam.

The charge nurse nodded.  "I'll tell you what.  You go on down to Cam's room for a few minutes.  Unless he wakes up on his own, please don't awaken him.  I'll be down to shoo you out of there in a little while.  Deal?"

"Deal," Alex said.  "Thank you."

"You know, Kevin has hardly left your son's side since he was admitted," Mrs. Chandler added.  "That's good support."

"Yes, it is," Alex said.

The room was dark except for a night light when the Alex and John went in.  They saw Cam lying in his bed asleep, IV's draining into his arms, and Kevin sitting in an easy chair pulled up to the bed.

Kevin stood up when the door opened and went to them, silently putting his arms around them both.  The three of them stood there together, holding each other in a little clump of grief and misery without saying a word.  The two men kissed Kevin before letting go of him and going over to the bed.  Alex sensed an aura of hurt surrounding Cam where he lay, hurt that far surpassed the boy's physical wounds.

Alex and then John leaned down and kissed Cam on the head very gently, not wanting to wake him.  But he did wake up and tried to smile as he greeted them.

"Dad.  John."  He tried to smile with lips that were just starting to heal.  "I've been wanting to see you."  He paused, and then his face crumpled, and he shed a few tears.  "I've missed you so much.  I needed to see you.  Thank you for coming home."

Alex leaned down and kissed Cam again, this time on the cheek, tasting the salt in his son's tears.  "Sweet boy, you don't know how much we've missed you.  Where else would we be when you really need us?"

Kevin pulled up the two straight chairs to the bed, and sat down in one.  Alex took the other, and John sat down in the easy chair, reaching forward to take Cam's hand and hold it.

"How was your trip?" Cam whispered.

"Fast and painless," John said.  "Your dad is a good traveler.  We're so glad to see both of you."

"Same here," Cam said.  "You're both looking good.  But a little paunchy," he added with a smile.  "Kevin has been pushing Carl and me pretty hard in the gym and on the beach lately.  I'm looking forward to running your asses into the ground when I get outta here."

"You're dreaming," John said.  "It must be your meds."

Cam tried to laugh, which ended up in a coughing fit.

"You just missed Mom and Ian," Kevin told the new arrivals.  "They just left a few minutes ago for Malibu."

"I'm glad they're here," Alex said.  "When did they get here?"

"They got in a little after two o'clock yesterday afternoon and showed up here at the hospital about three," Kevin said.  "And there's more good news?"

"What?" John asked.

"The sheriff's police caught the guys who beat Cam up," Kevin said.

"Outstanding!" John said with satisfaction.  He and Kevin high-fived.

"Carl called us yesterday afternoon from school," Kevin continued.  "The two detectives on the case and some backup uniformed cops marched into the student union at UCLA, arrested these guys, cuffed 'em, and dragged them out to the squad cars in front of God and everybody.  The arrest was caught on camera, and has already been on TV.  And it's already in the newspapers."

"You don't know how happy I am to hear that news," Alex said.

"These two detectives must have worked for twenty-four hours straight on this case," Kevin said.  "I think they'd like to meet both of you, by the way."

"I'd like to meet them just to say thanks," Alex said.  "How can I reach them?"

"I have their business cards right here," Kevin said, taking them out his wallet and handing them to Alex.

"Thanks.  I'll call them tomorrow.  Er, later today, I mean."

"There's somebody else you should call if you're passing out thanks," Cam said.

"Who's that?" Alex asked.

"Father Ryan from St. Dunstan's.  Kevin told me he met him downstairs in Emergency after they brought me in.  He was here for a parishioner who'd been in an car accident, I guess.  Anyway, he anointed me the night I came in, and brought me Communion this morning.  I mean, yesterday morning.  I'm all mixed up.  Anyway, I really appreciated that."

"I'll call him," Alex promised.

They all talked and exchanged pleasantries for a few more minutes.  Alex and John tried to keep things light, filling the guys in on how their movie making was going in London.

"Listen, Cam, I know we have a lot to talk about," Alex finally said, studying his son's gaunt face.  "But I think we better get out of here and let you get some sleep.  One of the nurses emphasized we shouldn't wake you up.  We had to talk fast to get in here to see you at all, and the charge nurse is going to come down here and throw us out pretty soon."

"Yeah, well..." Cam said.  "Kevin is the one that needs to catch a few Z's."  Cam looked at his partner, who was sitting there with his head down.  "He's hardly left the hospital since I got here."

"The charge nurse mentioned that," John said.

Kevin looked up but didn't say anything, and Alex reached over and put his hand on Kevin's neck.

"Knowing Kevin, I'm sure that's true," Alex told Cam.  "What about it, Kev, are you ready to go home with us for a few hours?"

"I kinda wanted to be here when they take Cam to surgery," Kevin said.

"What time is will that be?" John asked him.

"Seven a.m., they said."

"Come home with us, then, and you can be back in plenty of time," Alex promised.

"I don't want to leave," Kevin said.

Cam looked at him.  "Kevin, go home.  I'm good, and you need to see Casey and Casey needs to see you.  Get some sleep," Cam insisted.

After a little more persuading, Kevin finally, reluctantly, acquiesced.

The three visitors stood up.  One by one they went to Cam, Kevin going last, and kissed him and told him good-bye.  Kevin briefly caressed Cam's face, and then kissed him again lightly on the lips.

"I love you, Cam," Kevin murmured.  "I'll see you in the morning before you go upstairs."

"Okay," Cam said.  "Thanks, Kev.  Love ya back.  I'll see you all later."

The three men left the room and headed for the elevators in silence.

When their elevator arrived, they got on, and John put his arm around Kevin as they plunged down to the first floor. 
Alex called their driver on his cell, and the man said he was in the front parking lot.  He said he'd pull around to the hospital entrance.

"I'll see you guys at home," Kevin said when they stepped outside.

"Aren't you going with us?" John asked.

"I have my car here," Kevin said.  "I guess I could leave it."

"No, don't do that," Alex said.  "It's too nice a car.  Some asshole will steal it."

"You're exhausted, man," John said.  "Why don't you let me drive your car home, and you go with your dad."

"All right," Kevin said, handing John the keys.  "It's on the far end of the lot."  He smiled.  "So nobody bangs into the doors."  He pointed John in the right direction.

"I'll get it home in pristine condition," John laughed as he walked away.  "Just follow the sound of screeching tires."

Kevin laughed as he and Alex ducked into the limo, and the big car slowly pulled away.  Alex slid over a little and put an arm around Kevin and hugged him.

"You're holding everything together really well, Kev," Alex said.  "I know it's not easy.  I'm sure you're not looking for compliments, but I know Cam appreciates your being there for him a lot.  So do John and I and the whole family.  You need to hear that, even if you take what you're doing for your partner for granted.  Not everybody is lucky enough to have somebody like you when the going gets tough.  You love Cam, and we love you, bud.  And we want to take care of you a little bit, too, if you'll let us."

Kevin didn't say anything at first.

"That's just it," he finally said.  "I don't deserve any thanks.  I haven't been able to say this to anybody else, but I wasn't there for Cam when he needed me most.  I should have gotten off my dead ass and gone with him when he went out to run.  But I didn't, and those guys nearly killed him.  I didn't have his back.  I'm never going to forgive myself for that."

Alex bent over and kissed Kevin's head.

"It's not your fault," Alex said quietly.  "Maybe you can't accept what I'm telling you right now, but we're going to work on it until you let go of the idea it was your fault.  Do you think Cam blames you?"

"I don't know."

"I doubt it very much.  You can't take responsibility for every bad thing that happens in this life and in this family, not even when it happens to your partner.  Some very evil people did what they did, and they're going to be held accountable for it.  You are going to be the most critical factor in Cam's recovery, and you have to be in shape mentally and emotionally to be what you have to be for him.  And for yourself.  I hope you're hearing me."

"I hope I have it in me."

"You have and you will," Alex said.  "You're an athlete, Kevin.  You're a warrior.  You're tough.  You're resilient.  As I said before, this isn't easy.  But the whole family has your back."

"I know you have."

That's all that was said for the rest of the ride home as Kevin physically leaned into the man who had become more his father than his own dad had ever been.

John was just pulling Kevin's Mustang into the driveway when the limo arrived.  The driver put Alex's and John's luggage into the garage and then came out and turned to Alex.

"Will you be needing me tomorrow, Mr. MacKenzie?" the man asked.

"I'll call you if we do, Patrick.  Thank you," Alex told him.  He pressed a twenty dollar bill into the man's hand.  "I know we're not supposed to tip you studio drivers," Alex said, "but that's a little something for the late hour."

"Thank you, sir.  I hope to see you tomorrow."

"Good night."

Alex and Kevin met John in the garage, and Kevin picked up two of their bags and muscled them through the back door into the hall.

Ian and Catherine and Carl were still up, and came to meet them in the kitchen.

Alex went to Catherine first and hugged her and kissed her on the cheek, followed by John.

"Thank you for coming down," Alex told his former wife.  "I know it means the world to Cam," he said.  "And thank you for staying here at the house."

"I knew I needed to be here in L.A.," Catherine said.  "And I appreciate your hospitality."  She laughed.  "Although I never asked you and John if I could stay here."

"You never have to ask," Alex said.

He and John moved on to shake hands with Ian and welcome him, and hugged and kissed Carl.

"Thanks for waiting up for us," John told them all.

The first thing Alex and John did was to go upstairs with Kevin and see Casey, fast asleep in his crib.  They didn't wake him.

"Beautiful baby," John said as the three of them went back downstairs to the den, where everyone had gathered.

"Yep," Alex agreed.  "And getting big."

"I know you're probably tired," Alex said to everyone after he and John sat down, "but why don't we talk for a few minutes.  Then I'll let you go to bed.  Anybody want some coffee?"

They all passed on the coffee, settled down on the tan leather couches and comfortable leather swivel chairs.  The room sparkled, Alex noted with satisfaction.  The new maid that Cam, Kevin and Carl had hired was obviously doing a good job.

They began talking about Cam and his condition.

The first thing Alex said was to reiterate what he had told Kevin in the limo.

"Kevin, I want you to know that any and all decisions that are made about Cam's treatment and follow-up will have to have your and Cam's input and agreement.  We'll all express our views at the right time, but like President Bush II, you are 'the Decider.'"  He added, "Along with Cam, as I said."

"Thank you," Kevin said.  "I think Cam and I are going to need help to know what to do for him.  For both of us, actually.  But you know we love and trust all of you, and want to hear everybody out.  Cam's physical injuries don't worry me so much, but I know he's badly wounded in places the hospital can't fix.  I'm really worried..."  Kevin dropped his head and stopped talking.

Ian was sitting next to him on one of the couches, and without saying anything, put an arm around Kevin.

They all talked for another half hour about Cam's impending surgery and follow-up, and then Ian changed the subject, looking over at Alex.

"You and John and I should think about paying a visit to the D.A. before you go back to London," he said.  "I've heard through the grapevine that the parents of the guys who hurt Cam have some political clout.  It won't hurt for District Attorney Nolan to know that there will be a serious flap if his office tries to go easy on the jerks who brutalized him.  I've known Jim Nolan for years.  We've served together on a lot of panels together at state bar association meetings."  Ian looked at Kevin.  "Is this all right with you, Kev?"


"You might want to think about taking Sean Miller with you," Carl suggested.  "When I told him what had happened to Cam, he was really upset."  Carl smiled.  "I won't tell you the exact words he used when I told him what went down."

"How are Sean and Susan doing?" John asked.

"They're doing well, I think," Carl said.

"What about Jeff?" Alex asked.

"We haven't heard from him since he went into rehab," Carl said.  "I don't think they let the newbies use the phone until the powers-that-be know that the therapy is having an effect."

"Been there, done that," Alex said.  "Anyway, Carl, let's check and see whether Sean would like to go with us to see the D.A.  It can't hurt for Mr. Nolan to understand that there are more people than just Cam's immediate family interested in how this goes down.  By the way, when will these jerks be arraigned?"

"We don't know yet," Kevin said.  "But if you call Detective Roker and Detective Suarez, they can probably tell us."

Just before they all went up to bed, John took note of the two dogs lying quietly on the floor in front of them.

"I understand Alice and Samantha really located Cam in that vacant house.  They're first on my top-ten list, I'll tell you that.  These border collies have sharp noses, for sure."  He patted his leg, and the dogs got up and came over to him, tails wagging.  "Good dogs," he said as he stroked their heads.  "I think you need some treats before bed."  They heard the word "treats," and their tails wagged faster.

"We have treats in the kitchen cupboard next to the sink," Carl said.  "You're right--we never would have found Cam without these dogs."

"How did the guys talk you into leaving the dogs down here in L.A.?" Alex asked Ian and Catherine.

"We brought them down with us when we were here just before school started," Ian said.  "So when the guys asked about letting them stay here, we agreed to leave them until Thanksgiving.  Thank God we did."

"Why don't I take 'the girls' out in the front yard for a few minutes before bed," John suggested, "and I'll give them treats before I come up."

Everybody agreed that it was time to get some sleep, and they each gave the two dogs a pat before heading upstairs.  John let them out for a few minutes into the sandy front yard, and then brought them back in for some dog candy.  He and the dogs went upstairs.  Alice and Samantha stood in front of the closed door to Cam and Kevin's room. John let them into the bedroom and shut the door behind them.

*  *  *

Kevin was up at 5 a.m.  He showered and shaved and ate some cereal, and was out the door for the hospital at 5:45 after leaving a note for Maria to feed Casey when she arrived.  The rest of the family was up at 6:00, but Kevin was gone.  They decided to take their time getting ready and planned to be on hand when Cam came down from surgery.

When Kevin went into Cam's hospital room, two nurses were on hand.  They had removed the IV's from Cam's arms, and had given him a pre-surgery relaxant by mouth.  The nurses left the room, and Kevin went over to the bed.

"Hey, man," Kevin said quietly.  "How ya doin?'"  He took Cam's nearest hand and held it.

"OK, I guess.  I'm sort of numb."

"That's good."  Kevin looked down at his partner.  Cam was a big boy, but he looked small and pale in the bed.  Kevin stifled an impulse to shed some tears, and pasted a smile on his face instead.  "The family'll be here waiting for you when you come back downstairs."

"That's good," Cam said, shutting his eyes.  "I hope everything goes all right."

"You know it will.  Your primary doctor and the surgeon are the best in this area.  Ian looked them up."

"Leave it to Ian to get the scoop on things," Cam said.  He looked at Kevin.  "Is Casey all right?  I woke up this morning thinking about him.  I miss him."

"He's great, and wants to see his other daddy."

"I wish I could hold him right now."

"You will.  Soon."

Two guys from pre-op, wearing scrubs, came bustling in at that point pushing a gurney.

"Good morning, Mr. MacKenzie," one of them said.  "It's time to go."

"All right," Cam said, and looked up at Kevin.  "Say a prayer for me, dude."

"You got it!" Kevin said.  He bent down and kissed Cam on the forehead, and then stepped back so the two aides could transfer Cam to the gurney.  They did so, and began to wheel him out.

"Bye," Kevin said as the gurney reached the door.  I love you, he said to himself, and sat down in the room's easy chair and spaced out for a few minutes, just letting his mind go blank.

As he sat there in a stupor, more aides eventually came in to make up the room for Cam's return from surgery.  Kevin stood and left the room, going to the cafeteria to get some coffee.  Not knowing what to do with himself, he took it back to the waiting room on Cam's floor, and sat down in the seat in the corner.  He sipped the coffee slowly and thought about his relationship with Cam.  He reflected about how good it had been for them since they'd come out to each other.  Their simultaneous leap into honesty had been a gamble that had paid off big time for them, and there were no regrets.  They were perfect together.  Cam was as close to perfection as anyone he had ever met.  He reflected on Cam's sunny temperament and his quick mind, seemingly tailor-made to mesh with his own.  He thought about his boy's body and how beautiful it was.  It, too, was perfectly suited to mesh with his own.  He resisted thinking about the exhilaration of making love to him, and lost that battle.  He felt a twinge between his legs as he wondered when he would be able to hold Cam again and show him how much he loved him.  And then cling to him in the sweet aftermath of giving himself completely to the man he loved.

When he had finished the coffee, he disposed of the cup and headed back to the corner of the waiting room.  There were only one or two people there at that hour of the morning, and he wanted to be as far away from them as possible.  No distractions.

He sat there for a while, not moving, not thinking, not praying.  Eventually he gathered his thoughts and worked himself up to offering a prayer to an entity with whom he was pretty pissed off.  But the prayer was for Cam, and he had promised he'd do it.

Well, are you there?

Not surprisingly, there was no answer.

I have to tell ya, sometimes I don't know what the fuck you're up to.  I don't know how you could let someone who loves you so much, one of your chosen ones like Cam, suffer like you have.  He's not like most of us, y'know.  I think he really was made in your image and likeness, and you let him be torn up by a pack of fucking animals.  Real scum!  I don't get it at all.  Why couldn't it have been me?  Why didn't you make me get off my dead ass and go with him for that run?

I don't kid myself.  I know who I am, and it ain't pretty.  I wouldn't have complained if it had been me taking the abuse, because I know I don't please you all that much anyway.  I admit I try to make everything in life about me most of the time.  I'm pretty much willful and selfish and hard to get along with.  No, I wouldn't have complained if it had been me,  But I'm complaining now for Cam, because he won't complain for himself.

It's not that I don't believe in you.  I do.  I just don't think you've been doing a very good job minding the store.

I'm asking you right out:  are you the Chief Dick, or are you the loving God that Father Ryan and Father Mason and the Church keep talking about?  If you are this loving God, then you need to get your ass in gear for a change and take care of Cam.  I'm sick of this shit, and you have some work to do now.  I wanna see some of the "good out of evil" I keep hearing about, happening.  I'm asking you right now to heal Cam in every way he's hurt:  mentally, emotionally and physically.

I promise that if you'll heal him and not let him suffer anymore, I'll reform my fucking self.  I'll do better.  I'll work harder.  I'll go to church willingly without being forced into it, and I'll even pray to you every day.  I'll offer thanks for the good things in my life and every time before I eat.  I'll be optimistic about people the way Cam is.  I'll even go to confession if you want me to.  I promise.

I hope to hell we have a deal, because that's all I have to put on the table.

He stared at the far wall, and then added,  Please hear me.  I'm talkin' to you right now through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen. 

He waited for the bolt of lightning, but all was quiet.  His immediate task completed, he sprang up from his chair and headed for the parking lot to walk off some of his nervous energy.

"Good out of evil.  Good out of evil," he repeated aloud, deciding that that would be his mantra from now on.  At least unless events proved that it just wasn't happening.

He was jogging in a huge circle around the parking lot when his cell phone vibrated at his waist.  He snatched it off his belt, and looked at the number calling.  He didn't recognize it, but snapped the phone open.


"Kevin?  This is Jeff Miller."

"Jeff!  We were just talking about you last night, dude.  I didn't think you could use the telephone at Assurances so soon after being admitted."

"Normally you can't.  But I asked for special permission when I heard what happened to Cam.  My counselor is sitting here listening to me.  How is Cam doing?"

"He just went up to surgery here at Santa Monica--UCLA Center a few minutes ago.  Those assholes tore him up pretty bad."

"I'm sorry, Kev.  Tell Cam I'm sorry."

"Thanks, man.  When he gets out of surgery, I'll call Assurances and leave a message for you about how things went."

"I'll appreciate that.  I saw on TV that they caught the guys who did it."

"Yeah," Kevin said.  "Carl was there when they arrested them right on campus.  In the student union cafeteria."

"I know those guys, Kevin.  They were a couple years behind me in high school.  They're druggies.  And mean as hell to boot.  They were mean as hell before they were druggies.  It was just a matter of time until they did something to put them behind bars.  At least I hope that's where they're going.  Maybe they can get some help inside."

"Maybe.  But with California's budget problems, maybe not."

"Unfortunately, you're right," Jeff said.  "Listen, my time is up.  Give Cam my love, will ya?  Tell my mom and dad I love 'em and miss 'em, and that I'm doing well.  Or I think I am, anyway.  It's pretty tough duty when you do things the right way in here.  Anyway, you hang in there, Kev.  Love ya, man!  I wouldn't be in here facing my demons if it hadn't been for you and Cam and Carl.  And my folks."

"Love you, too, bud.  Laters."

Kevin closed his phone and put it back on his belt.  He smiled.  At least something was going right for somebody.  Good out of evil, I guess.

On his last swing around the parking lot, he saw the limo from Alex's and John's studio making its way ponderously toward the front door of the hospital.  He cut short his last circuit and jogged over to meet the family.  Carl had decided to cut his classes and come to the hospital, so he was there, too.  Kevin hugged and kissed Catherine, and they all went inside and headed for the elevators.  On the way up to the post-surgery waiting room, Kevin told them that Jeff Miller had just called about Cam, and said he was doing well at Assurances.

"Bless his heart," Catherine said.  "I know what he's doing isn't easy.  He's in my prayers every day."

My mom.  Thank goodness somebody's being faithful to God, Kevin thought to himself.  But I'm gonna do better, he told Him.

They arrived at the proper floor, checked in with the volunteer at the front desk of the surgery waiting room, and started their camp-out, chatting quietly with one another.  An hour later the telephone rang and the volunteer answered it.  Hanging up, the volunteer approached the family.

"Folks, the doctor has some news about Cam," he said.  "He wants to talk to whole family.  Why don't you step through that door over there, and the doctor will join you shortly."

They went into a small conference room.  Two minutes later the doctor came in.

"Good morning.  I'm Dr. Keller."

Kevin began introducing the family members:  "This is Dr. Catherine MacKenzie, Cam's mother; Mr. Alex MacKenzie, his father; Mr. John Kelley, Mr. MacKenzie's partner; Mr. Carson, a family friend; and I'm Kevin Stoltz, Cam's partner."

"Nice to meet you all," Keller said, displaying no reaction to the diverse family relationships, offering his hand to everyone.

"I just finished operating on Mr. MacKenzie, and I'm pleased to tell you that the surgery went well.  We repaired all the damage from the assault on Mr. MacKenzie's person, and we expect him to make a full recovery from his injuries.  He's in Post-op recovery right now.  I want to keep him one more night in the hospital just to check his stitches in the morning to see how they're holding, and to maintain him on a course of strong antibiotics until he's released.  One of you may go into the Recovery Room to see him at this point, and he should be moved back to his room in about thirty minutes."

"Thank you so much, doctor," Kevin said.  "Mom, do you want to go?" he asked, deferring to Catherine.

"Thank you, Sweetheart, but Cam will want to see you more than anybody.  You go."

"Good," the doctor said.  "Our volunteer will show you the way."  He smiled at the family, and waited for Kevin to go with him and see the volunteer.

Kevin stood, kissed Catherine first, and followed the doctor out of the conference room.  They went to the waiting room front desk, and then the volunteer took him down the hall to Recovery.  The door had a "Do Not Enter" sign on it, but the volunteer tapped a pressure plate in the wall and the door opened.  They went into a large space with a multitude of staff moving around quickly and efficiently, and one of the nurses directed them to a curtained cubicle.  Cam was there, eyes closed.

"Thank you, sir," Kevin told the volunteer, who nodded and left.  Inexplicably overcome with emotion, Kevin studied Cam's face.  He just stood stood there for a while before he approached the bed with a lump in his throat, heart pounding.

"Hey, man," Kevin said, stooping over to kiss Cam gently on the forehead.

"Hey, Kev," Cam said, giving his partner a sleepy eyed smile.  "I guess I made it, huh?"

"Without a doubt."

"I wanna go home," Cam said.  "Everybody's been very nice to me, but I wanna go home."

"The surgeon says they're going to keep you overnight, and release you tomorrow.  Are you in any pain?"

"No."  Cam grinned.  "I'm flyin'!  I hardly know my own name."

"Dr. Keller says that the surgery went well, and that you're gonna be as good as new."

Cam nodded.

"Listen, I have some more good news," Kevin said.  "They let Jeff Miller use a phone at Assurances, so he called me when he heard about what happened.  He said to give you his love, and that he hopes to be able to have visitors before too long.  He's thinking about you.  He also said he knew Eric Clymer and his two buddies in high school.  They were a few years behind him, and they were assholes and druggies even then."

"Are they still in jail?" Cam asked.

"I think so.  They're being arraigned soon, I think."

Cam nodded with satisfaction, and started to drift off.  Kevin let him, and continued to stand by the bed, taking his hand and holding it.

A nurse came over to the bed five minutes later and gently awakened Cam.  "We don't want him to sleep right now," she told Kevin.

"We'll talk," Kevin said.  "I'll keep him awake."  And he did.  Cam stayed awake, and Kevin told him that Alex, John, Catherine, Ian and Carl were waiting to see him.  They talked about getting back to running on the beach and working out in the gym. 

Staff moved Cam back to his room about thirty minutes later, just as the doctor had said they would.  The family was joyful when they wheeled him into his room, and everyone gave him a gentle hug and kiss after he rolled in the door and a nurse had hooked him up to the monitors.  Though still in a fog, Cam was glad to see everyone again.

After they had all talked for a while, Ian changed the subject.

"Alex, if it's all right with Cam and Kevin, I think I should go ahead and make an appointment for us to see the D.A.  After we get a time, I'll check with Sean to see if he wants to go with us.  John, you have a stake in this as well, so you definitely should come along.
  Jim Nolan needs to know that there are a lot of eyes watching what happens to this case."

"Kevin?  Have you had second thoughts about this?" Alex asked.

"No.  Go for it," Kevin said, turning his attention back to Cam.

"Good," Ian said.

"Why do you want to see the D.A., Ian?" Cam asked.

"Eric Clymer's dad allegedly has some political clout," Ian said.  "We just want the D.A. to know that we're following your case closely.  We don't want him or any of his staff to drop the ball on this one, either by accident or on purpose."

"OK," Cam said.

*  *  *

Kevin and Carl used John Kelley's Highlander to go to the hospital to get Cam after his release the following morning.  Carrying a small gym bag, Kevin took his partner some clothes to wear home.  He shut the door to the room and helped Cam get dressed, having him sit gngerly in the easy chair while he finished up by putting on his socks and running shoes.

Cam was pleased to get out of the hospital despite the good treatment he had received from everyone.  He said thanks and good-bye from his wheelchair to all the staff he encountered on the way off the fourth floor.  John and Alex had previously straightened out the hospital bill with the financial office, so Cam was good to go with no indentured servitude in his future.

Reaching the front door, Carl ran to the parking lot to get the truck, and they headed home.  Carl and Kevin did most of the talking on the way to Malibu.  Cam didn't seem to have much to say now that his medical crisis was over and he was faced with the process of healing.

Maria and the rest of the family greeted him affectionately at the house, and Casey held his arms up for Cam to pick him up.

"I'd like to kiss your little face right off," Cam told the little guy as he held him, and Casey pinched his nose in response.  Cam held him a long time before he could be persuaded to put him down.

"Did the doc say when you can start running again?" Carl asked.

"I'm supposed to start out walking, and gradually work up to it.  I wouldn't mind going for a walk on the beach right now, though."  So the three guys, joined by Catherine headed out the door.  Once on the beach, Kevin led them in the opposite direction from the house where Cam had been molested.

It was hazy in the city, but the sky in Malibu was clear thanks to a west wind.  Cam lifted his face to the sun and was thankful to be back where he belonged, more or less intact.

*  *  *

Alex had talked on the phone that morning with the two sheriff's detectives, Roker and Suarez, to offer his thanks for their extraordinarily fast work in apprehending Eric Clymer and his two stooges.  He invited them to stop by the house after their shift was over that day for a drink, and they had accepted.  While he was at it, he called Father Ryan at St. Dunstan's and asked him, his wife and three youngsters to dinner the following night.  He apologized for the late notice, explaining that he and John were going to have to return to London rather quickly, now that they knew Cam was going to be all right, at least physically.

Meanwhile, Ian had also been busy.  Given their long acquaintance, Ian had had no trouble in getting a fifteen minute appointment with Los Angeles County D.A. Jim Nolan at 11 a.m. that day.  He, Alex, John, and Sean Miller left the house about 10 a.m. in the studio limo to go downtown.  They were ushered into Nolan's office promptly on the hour, and Nolan came around his desk to say hello.

"Ian!  How are you?" he said, pumping Carson's hand.

"I'm good, Jim.  And you?"


"Let me introduce Alex MacKenzie, John Kelley, and Sean Miller.  Jim Nolan, gentlemen."  The men all shook hands cordially.

"Yours are names all well known to me," the D.A. said.  There was a small conference table and chairs at the side of the large room, and Nolan gestured at it.  "Why don't we sit over there," he suggested.

Once seated, Nolan looked at Ian.  "What can I do for you folks today?" he asked.

"I'm sure you are aware that Alex's son Cameron was recently attacked in Malibu," Ian said.  "He was dragged off the beach when he was out for a run and dragged to a vacant house where he was beaten and raped.  He has just completed surgery at Santa Monica--UCLA Medical Center to address rectal tears that were sustained in the attack.  I understand that the sheriff's police have picked up the three alleged perpetrators, and that they are currently in the county jail.  We're wondering what your office will ask the judge to do with respect to bail at the arraignment."  Ian cleared his throat.  "These guys were most likely drugged up, and we'd like you to support a motion for denial of bail for them.  They live right down the beach from Alex and his son.  I'm sure you don't want any reprisals by the arrested parties on the MacKenzies.  The perpetrators are clearly a danger to the community, if not a flight risk."

"I don't know what we're doing on bail," Nolan said.  "Let me find out who's handling the case."  He stood up, walked to his desk and punched some numbers into his phone.  "Ralph, this is Jim.  Who's handling the Cam MacKenzie case?"

"I see," Nolan said to his associate when he heard the answer.  "I want you to call Petrie, and instruct him to ask the arraigning judge for a remand with no bail because the defendants are a danger to the community.  See if he can make an argument for their being a flight risk, too."

Nolan listened while his associate apparently responded at some length.

"I don't give a shit.  Just do it."

Ian lifted his eyebrows in surprise at the decision.  He had expected to hear a lot of verbiage from Nolan about bail entitlement when defendants had no previous convictions, or hadn't actually murdered someone in an egregious manner, or were deemed unlikely to flee the jurisdiction.

Nolan hung up the telephone, walked back over to the conference table and sat down.  He looked at Alex.

"I watched the newscasts and read the papers," he said quietly.  "I didn't like what these guys allegedly did to your son.  I just want justice to be done.  No compromises."

"We're very gratified," Ian told his friend.

"How gratified are you, personally?"

"What do you mean?

"How about prosecuting this case for the county?  I can appoint you as a special prosecutor."

"Jim, I'm a defense attorney."

"So much the better.  You're smart and you're experienced.  You know all the tricks that the defense attorneys will use."

"That's true.  But I do have a personal stake in this."

"What is your stake in this?"

"Cam is like a son to me," Ian said.  "I won't go into all the intricacies of our relationships, but these men with me here today, and their families, are like family to me and Mary.  We've been through some experiences that have made us bond.  The press would find that out--and they always do--so even if I were to get a conviction, it would likely be thrown out on appeal.  The appeals courts love to overturn cases for shit like this.  Then you'd be right back where you started."

Jim Nolan studied his friend for a long moment.  "You're probably right," he said.   "It was just a thought."

The five men talked a few minutes more about what was going on in L.A., and then Ian looked at his watch.  Their fifteen minutes were up.

"Jim, thanks for seeing us on such short notice," Ian said.  "The word up and down the state is that you're doing a great job down here, and I know your office will do a good job prosecuting this case no matter what."

"Thanks," Nolan said.  "We're going to do our best."

Alex shook the D.A.'s hand on their way out.  "Thank you for your time, Mr. Nolan.  When and if you decide to run for re-election, give me a call.  I'd be more than willing to appear in one of your ads. I won't speak for John or Sean, but maybe he would, too."

"Absolutely," Sean said.  "Call me when the time comes."

"And me as well," John said.

Nolan seemed happy to hear he had that kind of support, and they parted company.

Alex, John, Ian and Sean were so pleased about the outcome of their meeting, they had a drink in the limo going home
, using the Waterford crystal glassware on board.  Alex limited himself to a tonic water, but the others drank some of the twenty year old Scotch.

When they arrived back home, Maria fixed sandwiches for everybody, and they ate out on the front deck.  Alex and John let Maria know how pleased they were to have her working at the house and doing such a good job with Casey, and Alex decided that once he and John were back in London, he'd tell the boys to give the woman a salary bump.  Every little bit helps, Alex thought to himself.

The two detectives showed up in their unmarked sheriff's car about 5 p.m., and everybody in the family, plus the Millers, pulled out all the stops to make them feel welcome.  Cam and Kevin let them know how much they appreciated their hard work on the case.  The officers accepted the praise coming their way with thanks.

John fixed Detective Suarez a Grey Goose vodka martini, dry, and Detective Roker had a Chivas Regal with a splash of water.  Maria had made several platters of delicious hors d'oeuvres for the occasion, and they were a big hit. 

Suarez sat down on a couch in the living room, loosening his tie.  He took a sip of his drink, and looked at Alex.  "News came down from the D.A.'s office this afternoon that the D.A. himself is interested in this case.  They're apparently going to pull out all the stops to get convictions.  They asked us to request their office for warrants to search the perps' houses for drugs.  That's the opposite of what usually happens.  We're usually begging them to go to court for warrants."

Roker nodded.  "I don't ever remember being prompted by them to request warrants.  Somebody over there doesn't like Clymer and his two buddies.  And that doesn't hurt our feelings a bit."

"It doesn't hurt our feelings, either," Ian said.

Alex, John, Ian and Sean smiled surreptitiously at each other, not letting on that they had met with the D.A. that morning.

When it came time for refills, Roker said he would drive, and had an iced tea instead of more Scotch.  Suarez had another Grey Goose martini.

The officers seemed to enjoy the opportunity to meet some celebrities and chat with the family.  At the appropriate time they finished their drinks and left after wishing Cam the best of luck in his healing process.  Alex saw them out to their car, thanking them again for their work on Cam's case.

After they left, Kevin told Sean Miller that Jeff had gotten special permission to telephone him about Cam, and that he had told him he was doing well at Assurances.   Jeff had wanted him to tell Sean and Susan that he loved them, and was looking forward to calling them when he had earned that privilege at the rehab center.  Sean beamed, and went to tell his wife right away.

*  *  *

Sean and Susan Miller joined the family for dinner that night
--grilled pork short ribs and a peppered tomato and cucumber salad in vinegar, followed by strawberry shortcake.  The adults tried to restrain themselves from eating too much, but the boys ate until they could hardly move.  Susan Miller asked to feed Casey after the meal was over, and loved it.  She had become very attached to the little boy, and he liked her a lot.

Kevin used the opportunity to ask the Millers if they could use their pool in the evenings from time to time.  He had in mind letting Father Ryan's kids swim the following evening.

"You know you don't have to ask," Sean Miller said.  "You know where the key is.  Use it."

"We appreciate that," Kevin said.

Kevin and Carl got busy on their homework not long after supper, but Cam made no move to do any work, not even for his favorite class--cinematography.  Cam took Alex aside for a talk later in the evening.  They went into the study and shut the door.

"Dad, I think I'm pretty messed up by what's happened to me," he told his father as they sat down across from each other.  "I think it might be a good idea if I drop out of school this semester."

"Maybe you should wait a week or so before you make a decision about that," Alex suggested.  "You're the only one who can decide what you need to do, but I hate to have you miss a semester if you don't have to.  If it's all right with you, I'm going to call your dean tomorrow and let him know what's going on.  I think the administration at UCLA would be more than willing to work with you until you get back on your feet mentally and physically if you can stick it out.  From what you've told me, you like your classes, and it might be better for you to have something to think about other than yourself and the way you're feeling right now."

"You're probably right.  I guess I don't need to pull the plug right away.  But I'm starting to realize that I may need some help dealing with what happened to me."

"I agree with you about that, Cam.  I think your mom might want to talk to Dr. Amanda Smith at St. Francis for a recommendation of someone down here who could counsel with you.  If that's all right with you and Kevin, of course."

"Carl really benefited from working with Dr. Smith after what his dad did what he did," Cam said.  "So yeah, I wouldn't have any problem with seeing if she can steer us in the right direction."

"Good."  Alex studied Cam's face.  "I hope you know how much I hate what happened to you, Son," he said.  "It breaks my heart..." Alex stopped talking because his throat closed up, and tears came to his eyes.

Cam got up from his chair and went to the couch, sitting down beside Alex and putting his arm around him.

"I know, Dad.  I don't think I'd want to live if it weren't for this family.  I don't think I'd ever get over it.  But I will.   Because of all of you."

"I know you will," Alex said, pulling out his handkerchief and wiping his eyes.  "I know you've got stones, and you're going to be all right.  I just wish I were going to be here with you now instead of having to go back to London.  I know John feels the same way."

"Well, we're just gonna have to make the phone company rich and stay in close touch, that's all."

"I want to talk to you every day," Alex said.

*  *  *

Kevin received his first direct proof of what bad shape Cam was in when they went to bed that night.   The two of them went through their usual bedtime routine:  undressing, cleaning their teeth, making sure that Casey's diaper was dry and clean, setting the alarm and climbing into bed.

Kevin had no sooner spooned Cam and put his arms around him than his partner began noticeably shivering and shaking.

"Are you cold?" Kevin asked, reaching down and pulling a light blanket up over them from the foot of the bed.

"No, I don't think so," Cam said.  "I don't know what's wrong with me."

Kevin moved away from him, and no sooner had he done so than Cam stopped shaking.

"You're afraid to be touched, aren't you?" Kevin asked, already knowing the answer.

"Yes," Cam whispered.  "I'm sorry, Kevin.  I love you so much.  Please don't be hurt, but I don't want anybody's hands on me right now."

Kevin understood intellectually what Cam was going through, but emotionally it was like a stab in the heart.  He had missed being physically close to his partner the last few days.  He needed to be close to him now and knew that he couldn't be.

Kevin climbed out of bed slowly, left the room and went downstairs to the garage.  Grabbing one of the sleeping pads the guys from San Rafael had slept on when they had all come down to Malibu, he took it back upstairs to his and Cam's room.  He unrolled the pad on the floor and fixed himself a bed with a sheet and a blanket out of the closet and his pillow off their bed.  He put his head on the pillow and eventually drifted off to sleep.  But he was grieving.

The next morning after breakfast, Catherine asked Cam and Kevin if she could call Dr. Smith on Cam's behalf.  They agreed quickly, and she went into Alex's study and shut the door behind her.  Bringing up her cell phone directory, she dialed Amanda's number, and her secretary Ann answered.

"Ann, this is Catherine MacKenzie.  Is Amanda in?"

"She is, Dr. MacKenzie.  Let me see if she can take your call.  Please hold."  The line went dead for a moment, and then Catherine heard her friend's voice.

"Catherine!  I tried to call you yesterday, and your secretary said you were out of town."

"I'm in Los Angeles, Amanda, and not under very happy circumstances."  She paused, hating to say what she had to say.  "Cam was kidnapped off Malibu beach several days ago and was beaten and raped by three young men who live nearby.  They were caught and are in jail.  Cam's out of the hospital now after having surgery to repair some rectal tearing."

Catherine heard Amanda Smith gasp.

"Oh, Catherine, I'm so sorry!  What a tragedy!  How is he?"

"Physically, he's on the road to recovery, I think.  Mentally and emotionally, not so good.  I've been thinking about how we should address this, especially since he told Alex that he needs someone to talk to.  I'm wondering if you know someone down here you can recommend for therapy?"

"I do.  Her name is Martha Owens, a Ph.D. in clinical psychology who teaches at UCLA.  She's a disciple of Edna Foa, who's head of clinical psychology at the University of Pennsylvania.  Edna was designated one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine this year.  She has probably done more to successfully address Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder than anyone.   The Pentagon has finally admitted that psychological disorders incurred among our combat service personnel are as damaging as physical wounds, and in conjunction with Veteran Affairs has adopted the protocols she developed to address PTSD.  Martha Owens is likewise having a lot of success using those same protocols with civilians who have been traumatized.  I was guided by those protocols when I treated Carl Emrick, by the way."

"Just to help me understand, what's the guiding principle in this kind of therapy?" Catherine asked.

"The principle is called Prolonged Exposure, or PE," Amanda said.  "In a nutshell, the therapist identifies the situations and thoughts that cause the client the most anxiety, and repeatedly exposes that client to them in a very gentle way.  The therapist and client then move from memories to examine the actual physical circumstances involved, when and where that's possible.  Where was Cam brutalized?"

"Here in Malibu."

"Where specifically in Malibu?"

"In an empty beach house about two miles from Alex's house."

"Well, Martha may well take Cam to that house in the course of his therapy."

"My Lord!" Catherine said.  "That's horrible.  It hurts me just to think about it."

"I know.  It seems cruel, but it's extremely effective.  Facing what happened in a vivid way drives a spike into the heart of a client's PTSD, sometimes in as little as twelve sessions.  I hope you, or more precisely, Cam, won't back away from this.  He will heal, I promise you."

Catherine was silent for a moment.

"Well," she finally said, "I trust you, Amanda.  If you recommend that methodology, along with Dr. Owens as an appropriate therapist, I'll support it.  I'm going to need to convince Cam and Kevin and Alex and John and Ian that this is the way to go, though.  But I'll give it a shot."

"I promise that you and your family won't be sorry, Catherine."

"Will you call Dr. Owens and give her a heads up that we may be contacting her?"

"Absolutely.  As a matter of fact, I'll try to call her right now if you like.  Let me give you her phone number, too."  Amanda Smith read off a number, and Catherine wrote it down.

"All right," Catherine said.  "I'll want to talk with her no matter what we decide to do.  Cam, along with Kevin, will be making the final decision, of course."

"That sounds good to me, Catherine.  I commend you for that.  These young men absolutely have to buy into this, or it doesn't matter what anybody else decides."

"Thank you, Amanda.  I appreciate you and your work so much.  I hope you know that."

"I do know that," Amanda Smith said.  "You're a valued colleague.  I want you to know that my door is always open to you if you want to talk about things.  Sometimes when a loved one has been hurt, any of us can use a sympathetic ear."

"I have a feeling I'm going to be taking you up on that," Catherine said.

After a few more pleasantries, the two women ended the call.  Catherine sat in the study in the silence, staring at the wall and contemplating what Amanda Smith had told her.  Then she wept for her son.  For what had happened to him, and for what lay ahead for him in therapy.

© 2010 Don Hanratty

I especially wanted to post this chapter in a timely manner because I'm going on vacation.  I'll try to do some writing while I'm on the road, but can't promise that Chapter 46 won't be late.  I appreciate all the reader support I've had for Beloved.  DH