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
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
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.
too, of course. That was science
fiction for the future, Star Trek stuff, but people in that day would
back and think about how primitive current travel methods were.
Including airplanes. People sealing themselves in huge aluminum
were forced through the air from one
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
Now it was time to bring his mental and emotional resources as a
father and a man to bear on Cam in what
suspected would be a long period of recovery. What had happened
to Cam, as described by Kevin, must have been horrible for him.
was horrible for the whole family. Debilitating.
Destructive. Tendrils of fear and remorse for his boy clutched at
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 himself. He 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
there for his boy, hold him, let him know how much he was loved.
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
claim. The uniformed driver sent by the studio was waiting for
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
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
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
to hear their point of view about follow-up with Cam after he was
But above all, Alex wanted to consult and work with
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
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
"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,
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
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
around them both. The three of them stood there together, holding
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.
missed you so much. I needed to see you. Thank you for
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
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
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
"Carl called us yesterday afternoon from school," Kevin
"The two detectives on the case and some backup uniformed cops marched
the student union at UCLA, arrested these guys, cuffed 'em, and dragged
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
case," Kevin said. "I think they'd like to meet both of you, by
"I'd like to meet them just to say thanks," Alex said. "How can I
"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,"
"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
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.
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,"
"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
away. Alex slid over a little and put an arm around Kevin and
"You're holding everything together really well, Kev," Alex said.
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
Cam blames you?"
"I don't know."
"I doubt it very much. You can't take responsibility for every
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
"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."
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
Alex went to Catherine first and hugged her and kissed her on the
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
fast asleep in his crib. They didn't wake him.
"Beautiful baby," John said as the three of them went back downstairs
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
"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
"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
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
Cam's immediate family interested in how this goes down. By the
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
"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
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
Everybody agreed that it was time to get some sleep, and they each gave
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
When Kevin went into Cam's hospital room, two nurses were on
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
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
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
"Good morning, Mr. MacKenzie," one of them said. "It's time to
"All right," Cam said, and looked up at Kevin. "Say a prayer for
"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
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
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
them as possible. No
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
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
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
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
now on. At least unless events proved that it just wasn't
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."
We were just talking about you last night, dude. I didn't think
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
"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
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
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
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
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
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.
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,
"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
"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
"Dr. Keller says that the surgery went well, and that you're gonna be
as good as new."
"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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
of verbiage from Nolan about bail entitlement when defendants had no
previous convictions, or hadn't actually murdered someone in an
manner, or were deemed unlikely to flee
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.
didn't like what these guys allegedly did to your son. I just
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.
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
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
likely be thrown out on appeal. The appeals courts love to
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.,
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
"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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
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
Kevin moved away from him, and no sooner had he done so than Cam
"You're afraid to be touched, aren't you?" Kevin asked, already knowing
"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
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
"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,
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
"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
"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
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