My Belovèd is mine, and I am his.
Song of Songs 2:16
Fall, such as it was, had come to southern
California. The days were still long and hot, but the nights were
cooler. And everything was dry. People began to watch
closely for a
repeat of the destructive fires that seemed to ravage the L.A. area
every year about then.
But Cam was oblivious to it all.
During the few days he'd been at home after being released from the
hospital, he had gradually fallen into a haze that in truth was the
a clinical depression. He was seeing reality as if were a dream,
which served as his protection against the terrible memories of being
brutalized. In his current state there was neither pain nor joy
in his life. Cam's severe reaction to what had happened to him
surprised even Carl Emrick, who had had a similar experience with his
own father without being so debilitated.
Cam had dropped all his classes at UCLA, except he had not yet opted
his favorite class, cinematography. But he had accepted the fact
that he probably would drop it, too. All of his interests were on
hold. He didn't work out in the gym despite Kevin's gentle urging
so, and he claimed that his surgeon didn't want him running yet.
no desire for sex, and didn't even masturbate. He was pretty much
comatose, sleeping a lot even during the day. He was alive and
around, but mentally and emotionally
he was in an incipient fugue state. His interest was somewhat
piqued only when he was in the company of Casey, and he spent at least
a few of his waking hours with the little boy. The time Cam
devoted to Casey freed up Maria Romero to spend more time on her
household duties, but the maid was deeply saddened by Cam's state of
mind. She sorely missed the happy and vibrant person that Cam had
been, and worried about him.
The family had all gathered
in the study and talked about Cam's condition one evening
after he had gone to bed early. Catherine had already telephoned
clinical psychologist at UCLA, Martha Owens, whom Dr. Amanda Smith at
St. Francis had recommended. After hearing from Catherine about
happened to Cam and refreshing her own memory of events from online
articles, Owens had provisionally agreed to take Cam on as a
patient pending a satisfactory first meeting with him the following
The family had all agreed that the first meeting with Dr. Owens
couldn't come too soon. Catherine especially wanted to know he
was at least scheduled for treatment before she went back to San
Rafael. Owens asked Catherine to keep her appraised of Cam's
* * *
The evening had arrived for Father John Ryan
and his family to come to supper at Alex and John's house, an
invitation issued by them concurrent with Cam's release from
Everybody had been looking forward to the occasion because they all
respected and admired Father Ryan, and wanted to meet his wife Lisa,
and their three kids--ten and eight year-old boys and a six-year old
That wasn't strictly true. Everybody was looking forward to the
dinner party, with a swim afterward for the youngsters, except for Cam. Cam couldn't make himself care
dinner party for the Ryans one way or another.
The family arrived about 5 p.m. Alex had invited them to come
early, knowing that an early supper would be best for the children,
particularly if they were going to swim in the Millers' pool
next door afterward. The youngsters came into the house with
and towels under their arms, obviously looking forward to getting in
the water. Father Ryan had brought his swimming trunks and a
Lisa Ryan, the priest's wife, was a svelte, shapely, lovely woman with
long blonde hair
to her shoulders. She smelled like lilacs. She was as
charming as she looked, and soon had captivated not only straight Ian,
but also the gay men and boys. There was an inner peace to her
mirrored John Ryan's own spirit. She and Catherine MacKenzie hit
The two Ryan boys, Samuel and Joshua, were spitting images of Father
Rachel was a young mirror of Lisa. The kids were outgoing,
and Kevin and Carl soon had them engaged in a Wii bowling game in the
study while the adults visited in the living room before supper.
pouring drinks, getting Lisa and Father Ryan glasses of a good pinot
noir, Catherine and Ian vodka tonics, and vodka martinis for Alex and
himself. Catherine held Casey on her lap for a few minutes,
and then Lisa asked to hold him. The little guy was his engaging
self, touching Lisa's face and playing with a gold chain she wore
around her neck.
Cam had gone back upstairs after doing his social duty in greeting the
visitors, and the priest noticed his absence in the course of checking
several times what the younger set was doing in the study He
finally asked Kevin where Cam was.
"I think he went up to his room," Kevin said. "He's spending more
and more time up there since..." Kevin's voice trailed off, and
he looked stricken.
"Would you mind if I go up and see him?" Father Ryan asked.
"Not at all," Kevin said. "His room"--not our room--"is the first room on the
right at the top of the stairs."
The priest mounted the stairs two at a time, and knocked on the open
door at the top. Cam was lying on his side on the bed, facing the
doorway. The priest looked into the young man's eyes. The
green eyes which had once sparkled with life were empty.
Cam's forced, fake cordiality when the Ryan family had arrived was
gone, replaced by an emotional void.
John Ryan took one look at him, and went over to the desk and rolled
the desk chair over to the bedside. He was no stranger to what he
seeing. He had seen the blank look and dead eyes many times in
trauma centers abroad during his days as an Army chaplain.
The priest sat down in the chair and reached out and took Cam's hands
his own. Cam didn't react at all.
Still no reaction.
"Stick with me for a minute here."
"I know you're hurting, even though you're trying to block out the pain
right now," Ryan said. "But in spite of the pain you're trying to
hide from yourself,
going to learn how to deal with your feelings. You'll deal with
them in a
different way than just trying to avoid the memory of what
happened. The truth is, you'll
never forget what happened to you. But you'll learn to handle
what you experienced
Their eyes locked for a moment and for a split second Ryan saw a flash of the real Cam in there. Then the old Cam was gone
and his eyes were blank again.
The priest continued to hold Cam's hands for a few minutes before
letting go. Then he stood and placed his hands on Cam's head and
blessed him. Ryan wheeled the desk chair back to its place, and
left the room. He walked downstairs slowly, deeply disturbed by
what he had seen. Lisa Ryan took one look at his face when he
came back into the living room and knew that something was very wrong.
Ryan looked at the group silently for a moment.
"Kevin said I could go up and see Cam," he said quietly as he sat
"Cam's very withdrawn." He stared down at his feet. "I saw
this condition many times before, when I was an Army chaplain."
and looked at the family. "I think
this is the time to intervene. It's an emergency. Has
anyone talked to a
professional about some therapy for him?"
"Yes," Catherine said. She filled Father Ryan on her discussions
with Dr. Smith in San Rafael and with Dr. Owens.
"I think it's time to give Dr. Owens a call," the priest said.
"Psychologists in California can't prescribe meds, but she most likely
works closely with an M.D. on cases like this in which they're
needed. We can't let Cam slip away from us."
Catherine looked at Alex, who nodded, and then stood up.
"Let me go up and see Cam first," she said, "and then we can all come
to a decision."
She walked out of the living room, went upstairs, and found Cam in the
same position on the bed that Father Ryan had. His eyes fluttered
open, still blank, his face expressionless.
"Cam. It's your mom. Can you hear me?" She knelt down
at the side of the bed and held her boy's face in her hands and kissed
To her dismay, there was no response.
"Sweetheart, we're going to get you some help. I'll be
Before leaving the room, she went to the closet and pulled a light
quilt off the shelf and covered Cam's body with it. Then she
walked walked down the stairs and back into the living room.
"All right," Catherine said. "He needs help. But
before we make a decision, let's get with Kevin and see what he
thinks. He's more than earned the right
to be heard."
"You're absolutely right about that," Father Ryan said, appreciating
the respect that Catherine was giving Kevin.
Catherine left the living room and went to the door of the study as
silence fell on
"Kevin," she said, beckoning to him when he looked up from the Wii game.
"Carl, take over," Kevin said. "And don't let Sam beat you!"
"No," Catherine said. "Carl, you come, too. We need to talk
to both of you."
The guys looked each other curiously as she walked in front of them
into the living room. Lisa Ryan stood up and went next door to
the study to be with her children while the family talked.
Catherine looked at Kevin when the three of them were seated.
"Kevin, Father Ryan thinks that Cam is in bad enough shape that we need
to call Dr. Owens right now," she said. "I agree with him.
But I want to know what you
think, and you, too, Carl, before we do anything."
Kevin nodded. "I think Father's right. He needs help.
I'm afraid for Cam right now..." His voice broke along with his
tough guy reserve, and he teared
up and looked down at the floor until the lump in his throat went
away. "I don't know what's happening to him, but I know I haven't
been able to communicate with him very much the last few days."
"Carl?" Alex said. "Based on your own experience with this issue,
what do you think?"
"I agree with Catherine and Kevin and Father Ryan," Carl
thinking the same thing for a couple of days now. Cam had a worse
experience than I had, and because of it he's in worse shape than I
ever was. Please call someone."
Catherine looked at the family. "Does anyone think differently?"
They all shook their heads in the negative, and Catherine stood up and
went to Alex's desk and consulted some notes and telephone
numbers there. Sitting down and picking up the telephone, she
in a number from
the note pad in front of her. Dr. Owens' answering service picked
"Hello. This is Catherine MacKenzie calling. I need to
speak to Dr. Owens immediately. It's an emergency."
The answering service took her information, and Catherine hung
up. She remained sitting where she was until the telephone rang
not more than two minutes later. The family was silent.
"MacKenzie," she said when she picked up the receiver.
"Martha Owens, Dr. MacKenzie. Is Cam not doing
"He's not," Catherine said. "He's withdrawn and unresponsive,
"He's conscious, though?"
"I'm going to prescribe some medication for him, then. We have
the option of hospitalizing him, but I prefer not to do that unless
he's a danger to himself or others."
"I don't think he's a danger to himself or others." Catherine
paused. "But I didn't
psychologists could prescribe meds."
"I'm an M.D., as well as holding a Ph.D. in clinical psychology,"
Owens said. "I've never practiced general medicine, but I'm able
to write scripts. What pharmacy do
Catherine looked at Alex. "What's the closest pharmacy?" she
asked, and then relayed the information to Dr. Owens.
"I'll call this in right away," Owens said. "After Cam takes his
first capsule, please call me back in an hour or so. We need to
top of this situation. I want you to be aware that some
antidepressants are contra-indicated for teens. Some of them can
turn out to be depressants for teens and even promote suicidal
ideation. That's why we
need to stay on top of any side effects. What I'm going to
prescribe for Cam should be all right for him, though."
"I appreciate your letting me know that," Catherine said. "We'll
watch him closely. When do you think you can see him for an
"Unless he has a bad reaction to the antidepressants, I'd like to see
him on Monday. I'll make additional time if it's needed."
"I'll appreciate that so much, Dr. Owens. I'm confident Cam's in
"Thank you. I'll talk to you later this evening, I hope."
"Yes," Catherine said, and they hung up.
Kevin drove to the drug store to pick up Cam's prescription when it was
ready. Catherine fed Cam a first capsule right away, and then he
lay down again and fell asleep.
Supper that night was a hit with the Ryans. Maria had fixed a
soup, a caesar salad, sweet potatoes, and four apple pies for dessert,
Alex cooked salmon steaks on the grill. Everything was
excellent, and even the little Ryan kids ate heartily. John
Kelley served the apple pie a la
Kevin took Cam's food up to the bedroom
on a tray after everyone had eaten. Cam wasn't hungry, but Kevin
pulled him up off the bed and sat him down at their desk with the food
tray in front of him.
When Cam stopped eating after only a few bites, Kevin took the fork and
cut the food that needed it, and literally fed his partner until the
the largest meal Cam had eaten since being hospitalized.
Although he already seemed to be a little more alert than he had been,
after eating Cam went back to the bed and lay down. Kevin
covered him with the quilt again and kissed him on the forehead.
Picking up the tray full of dirty dishes, he carried it downstairs and
left it in the kitchen before going back to the living room.
After their food settled, the three Ryan kids, Father Ryan himself, and
Kevin and Carl
got suited up and went over to the Millers' pool to swim. The
kids had a great time. Kevin and Carl noticed that little Rachel
Ryan held her own with her two bigger brothers very well when they
all roughhoused in
Two hours after Cam's first pill, Catherine went upstairs and awakened
Cam. He seemed much more alert, and she called Dr. Owens to
that he seemed more responsive when she had talked to him. The
doctor asked her to call her one more time at around 10 p.m.
The Ryans had all had a good time, and thanked their hosts profusely
when they left shortly after 9 o'clock.
Catherine's final report for the evening to Dr. Owens was a positive
* * *
Eyes wide open, William Carson had lain in his bed in
Rafael at 6 a.m. a few days after Cam had been assaulted. He was still been very upset by what had happened to his
and had not been sleeping well since he had received the news. He
wanted badly to see Cam and Kevin and offer his support to them in what
was clearly a time of crisis.
Right at the moment, William's bladder was
and his dick hard as he lay there scratching his nuts under his
boxers. Glancing over at a still-sleeping Berto on the other side
of the room, he threw back his covers and went into the bathroom to
relieve himself. Then he went back to bed to see if he could
catch a few more minutes of sleep before his mother or Rosa came
upstairs to nag the boys to get ready for
The guys in the San Rafael portion of the family hadn't been back in
long, but Fall had already been jam-packed for William. Although
he could have coasted through his senior year in high school when it
came to academics, he had opted to take some AP classes in math and
history, and was up to his ass in studying every night. But that wasn't enough, he thought
to himself. Oh, no-o-o-o! I
had to be a glutton for punishment and go out for football.
He hadn't played since his sophomore year, laying out his junior
year at a private school in San Francisco. That had been a good
thing, because at that point his family was transitioning to San Rafael
because of Berto's problems in San Francisco.
This year William had been
a walk-on for football at San Rafael High, but it hadn't been long
before he was neck and neck with
a junior, Marc Street, for the varsity quarterback position at the new
Both of the boys were top-notch athletes with good
instincts on the field, but William had his rival outclassed when it
overall physical conditioning and mental acuity. The smart money
was on William to come out on top, with Marc as his backup. At
least William was hoping that was the way it
turned out. He knew he wasn't going to be happy riding the
bench. Just give me some
decent receivers, he thought, and
I'll terrorize the opposition.
He had smiled to himself as his mind drifted to the women in his
life. The girls were already lining up to date this new guy in
school, and many of them weren't reluctant to share their bodies with
after a second date, either in the back seat of Catherine's big car, or
elsewhere when the opportunities presented themselves. The ladies
understood that there was no commitment on his part, but still wanted
the pleasure of his company before he moved on to the next girl.
And there were seemingly no hard feelings on their part when he did
so, despite, or maybe because, the consensus was that he was a very
accomplished lover. It
wasn't, in their minds, as if
he had fucked them under false
pretenses. At any rate, they were keeping him busy enough that he
rarely jacked off to relieve sexual tension.
Between academics, athletics and a crowded dating schedule, William
was one busy boy. And overall, he was happy with his
life. He could handle it.
Although he was already a member of the elite at school, he was
genial and kind to everybody with whom he came in contact there, an
instinctive gift he'd had reinforced by Cam and Kevin. He looked
them both for who they were, but especially for their unfailing,
egalitarian kindness to others.
His mind drifted back to the condition Cam must be in after being
brutalized. He had been very disturbed when he had heard the
news. William had already
told his dad and mom that he needed to go down to L.A. as soon
as possible to see Cam and Kevin.
Frequent telephone conversations with Kevin and Carl had only firmed up
his intention to do that. It would have to be over a weekend,
given his full schedule he wouldn't get everything done that he needed
to get done, including hounding the boys in San Rafael to stay faithful
weekday workout sessions in their little home gym.
Taking his cell phone off its charger, he slid out of bed again and
went out into the hall so as not to awaken Berto. Sitting down on
the floor with his back against the wall, he punched his
father's quick dial cell number into the phone and hit send.
"William!" Ian said, sounding in his usual good mood at the start of
the day. "Let me call
you back. I'm out running on the beach with the Catherine and the
guys right now."
"All right," William said. "Don't forget to call me."
"How could I forget you, buddy? I'll call you back in half an
"Sounds good, Dad. Laters."
William disconnected and headed for the shower to get a jump on his own
day. He had just finished cleaning his teeth and showering and
gotten dressed when his
cell phone rang. It was Ian.
"Hey, Dad," William said.
"How are you doing, son?" Ian asked.
"I'm good. Busy, but good. How are things in L.A.?"
"Everybody's doing as well as can be expected, I guess. I don't
know whether it's been in the news in San Francisco or not, but I guess
you know the
police caught the three guys who hurt Cam. Sean
Miller from next door and Alex and John and I talked to the District
Attorney, and he's
going to be tough on these young men when this case goes to
trial. Catherine has found a therapist for Cam
to talk to, somebody in L.A. recommended by Dr. Smith from St.
Francis." Ian paused. "Cam isn't doing very well right now,
William. The new doctor has him on some antidepressants, and he's
only just starting to respond.
Alex and John and Kevin and Carl are a little down in the dumps about
things, but that's
to be expected under the circumstances. How are your mom and the
"We're all good, especially when we heard the news about the three guys
getting arrested. It was in the papers here, and Kevin and Carl
told me on the phone before that. Listen, Dad,
the reason I called is that I want
to come down to L.A. this coming weekend. I went out for football
San Rafael, so I have to be here for our first Friday night game.
maybe I can catch the last flight out of San Francisco to L.A. next
Friday after the game is
over, and come back home Sunday night."
"I didn't know you were going out for football. When did you
decide to do that?"
"It was a spur of the moment decision," William said. "Things are
going well, though. I'm in the running for first string
William grinned with pleasure at his dad's praise, and then got back to
business. "Anyway, when are you coming home?"
"Catherine and I are coming home tomorrow."
"Good deal." He paused. "Listen, Dad, I really
want to come down to L.A. to see Cam. I feel as if I need to do
"Don't you think it's a little
early in his recovery to visit?"
"No, I don't. Now's the time."
"What do you hope to accomplish?" Ian asked.
"I want to tell him how much we all love him," William said without
embarrassment. "I think now might be a good time to remind
him of that and how much everybody in this family admires him.
And how much
everybody who's ever met him thinks of him." William's emotions
welled up, and he stopped talking until he regained control of his
"From what Carl has
said about his own experience, the therapy is gonna be difficult, and
Cam should know these
he really gets into it. It's not going to be an easy road."
Ian sighed and surrendered. "I can't argue with you about
that. Let me check on late
flights to L.A. next Friday night and early Saturday morning."
Ian paused. "I'm so proud of you, William. For so many
"Thanks, Dad. I appreciate it. And I think coming down
there for a visit will
Cam and Kevin and Carl some good, or I wouldn't waste the time and
"All right, William. I'm going to be talking to your mom later,
and I'll give her some departure times for L.A. Decide what
flight you want, and have your mom put the ticket on her credit card."
"I will. Thanks again. Love ya, Dad."
"I love you, too, William."
The phone went dead, and William said "Yes!" and punched the sky.
"What are you so amped about?" Berto asked from the bedroom doorway,
clad in his boxers, as
he looked out into the
hall before heading for the shower.
"I'm going to L.A. this weekend."
"Cool!" Berto nodded approvingly. "I wanna go."
"To see Cam?"
"You'll have to run it by Dad."
Berto grimaced. "On second thought, maybe not." He went
the bathroom as
down the back stairs to the kitchen for breakfast.
When the other boys had heard at breakfast that William was going to
argued with Mary that they should be allowed to go as well. But
she'd hung tough. For the moment, only William would traveling.
* * *
San Rafael High lost their first game Friday night at home by one
point. The home team kicker had failed to
put the ball through the uprights for an extra point after a
touchdown. William and his rival Marc
Street had both played and done well. William's best receivers
had both dropped well-placed passes, but they hadn't done any better
for Marc when he was on the field. At any rate, William
still wasn't confident he had
cinched the starting quarterback position. Yet. He would,
The whole family, including Ian and Catherine, both of whom were back
Rafael by then, had gone to the game to show their support for William
and the team. That had pleased William a lot.
After a quick shower in the school locker room
after the game, he'd met his dad in the parking lot. William had only packed one carry-on bag for the trip to
L.A. along with his laptop, and he checked to make sure they were in
the back of Ian's SUV
before climbing in and riding shotgun.
Ian had complimented his son on a well fought
game as he critiqued the contest while he drove William to San
Francisco International. Traffic was
light on the way to the airport, and they arrived in plenty of time for
the flight. Ian had parked the Navigator in short-term parking,
went into the terminal with William.
"Love you, boy!" Ian had said as he hugged his son and kissed him on
cheek after William had checked in at the airline desk and paid the fee
bag. "I hope you can make things a little better for Cam."
"Thanks for letting me go, Dad. Love ya. I'll do the best I
can." William had kissed him back.
"I know you will. Call us before your return flight, and
someone will meet you on Sunday."
"Will do. See you then." William slid the strap from his
soft sided leather duffel bag over his shoulder, and waved to his dad
after passing through security.
The plane had taxied out to the runway after the plane boarded.
sat ahead of the starboard wing in a window seat. The plane had
been three-quarters full, and William had his row all to himself.
spent the first ten minutes after takeoff reviewing the earlier
football game in his head, and then dozed off. He didn't awaken
until a flight attendant came on the PA system to ready the passengers
for landing. It was midnight by then. Carl Emrick was to
meet him in the airline's arrival terminal at LAX.
Carl was right where he was supposed to be. The two young men
fists and hugged wordlessly as they exchanged kisses on the
cheek. Not having to go to baggage claim, they headed briskly
for John Kelley's
in short-term parking. Carl pressed the button on the key pod to
open the back hatch, and William swung his bag and laptop case
pressed the button again, and the hatch closed. They climbed into
"How are ya, dude?" Carl asked as he pressed the start button for the
"Sore," William said. "We played our first football game
tonight. I got sacked a couple of times, and I can feel
"Your dad told us you went out for football," Carl said. "That's
a hell of
a commitment in your senior year."
"Yeah," William agreed. "But I like it."
William laughed. "I guess."
They lapsed into silence.
"Well, give me the bad news," William finally said.
"Good news first," Carl said. "Cam is on
antidepressants, and is doing much better than he was just after he
home from the hospital."
"That's good. And...?"
"He's still in bad shape," Carl said. "And Kevin and I are
right along with him." Carl looked across the seat. "Cam
won't let Kevin touch him, even just to hold him. And I can
understand that, given what happened to me. Kevin understands the
he's hurting and feeling pretty rejected right now. He's so
depressed about Cam's condition that I'm the one who has to hound Kevin
out and run. Can you believe that?"
"Yes." William said. "Good thing I'm here, then."
"The only bright spot for Cam is Casey. He seems to draw Cam
out. Cam talks to him and plays with him for hours every
day. So that's good."
"Nobody can resist Casey," William said. "He raises everybody's
spirits. I'd like to do that for Cam, too."
"Maybe you're just what the doctor ordered," Carl mused. "For all
of us. When do you have to go home?"
"I was hoping you could stay longer. But I understand why you
"If I do some good on this trip, I'll try to come down as often as I
can," William said. "Did Alex and John go back to London?"
"Yes. They didn't want to, but the studio was getting testy
about all the high priced talent sitting on their asses over
there and getting paid for
doing nothing, so they had to." Carl didn't mention to William
that Alex had wept about the shape Cam was in when he and John had said
good-bye to everyone to go to the airport, and he didn't know that Alex
had almost had the limo turn around on the way and go back to the house
rather than leave. John had offered to go on to London alone, but
Alex thought better of it, and they boarded their flight.
William and Carl continued to chat about family stuff until they
home, where Carl parked in the driveway. The motion sensors
turned the flood lights on. Carl carried William's bag while
William carried his laptop. Kevin came to the door to greet
them, preceded by the dogs. William put down his laptop and
stooped down to pet the collies. When he stood up, he noticed the
dark circles under Kevin's eyes.
"Hey, bro," he said softly, engulfing Kevin in a long hug before they
exchanged kisses on the cheek and William let him go.
"Thanks for coming down," Kevin said.
"Needed to," William answered. "I want to get the scoop on Cam,
but first I want to know how you're doing." He looked him up and
down. "How are you
doing? You've lost some weight."
"A little," Kevin said. "How am I doing? I guess not too
well. I'm trying not to wimp out on Cam, but this is tough going."
William nodded. "I knew it would be." He paused, looking
Kevin in the eye. "But Cam and you are going to be okay."
"I've been needing to hear that. Thanks."
"William played a football game tonight," Carl told Kevin. He
to William. "You probably didn't get much supper. You
"I wouldn't say 'no,'" William responded.
"We have some great grilled salmon left over from supper a couple
nights ago," Carl
said. "Why don't I nuke some for you? And there's even a
of Apple pie left with your name on it."
"You're talkin' my language, dude," William said.
They went into the kitchen. William and Kevin sat at the table
while Carl heated up the leftovers and poured William a glass of
milk. William filled Kevin and Carl in on the San Rafael football
team while he was waiting, and told them a little about that evening's
Carl put the food on the table, including a piece of apple pie, and out
of habit William offered thanks
before digging in.
"Kev, how about some pie?" Carl asked.
"I'll get it," Kevin said. But Carl held up a deterring hand, and
went and got the pie for both of them. Then he brought a gallon
container of vanilla
ice cream to the table, and scooped out generous portions to top all
three pieces of pie.
William belched appreciatively after he finished his meal.
Leaning back in his chair, he looked at Kevin and Carl.
"Does Cam know I was coming down here?" he asked.
"Yes," Kevin answered.
"Did he say anything?"
"He nodded and smiled," Kevin said. "That means he's happy about
it. He doesn't smile very much anymore."
"Well, here's my deal for this trip," William said. "I have some
things I want to tell Cam when we're alone and relaxed: how much
we all love him and admire him. How strong he is. How
resilient he is. How much he has to offer this world. And
how important his relationship with all of us is, especially his
relationship with you, Kevin, and how he needs to work to keep that
relationship what it's always been." He looked at Kevin. "I
want to sleep in bed with him tonight. I want to hold him while I
tell him these things, if he'll let me." He looked away and then
back at Kevin. "Is that all right with you?"
"Yes," Kevin said. "But good luck with holding him. He
probably won't let you. He won't let me do that anymore."
Kevin couldn't hide the fact that he was hurt about that.
"I'll work on it," William said. He yawned and stretched in his
chair, arms in the air. "Speaking of bed, I'm ready to hit
it. How about you guys?"
"I'm ready," Carl said. Kevin nodded, and they all stood
up. Kevin put his arms around William and grinned at him.
"I'm really glad you're here. I'm not worried about you and Cam
sleeping in the same bed, 'cause I know you're such a pussy hound,
"I don't know," William told him. "You guys are really cute."
They all laughed.
"I wanna hear all about your latest conquests tomorrow," Carl told
William. "With Andy not around, I'm horny as hell."
"Speaking of Andy, he was over for supper the other night," William
said. "He misses you, Carl. He told me to give you
this." He grabbed Carl and planted a hot kiss right on his
lips. With a little tongue thrown in before stepping away.
Carl blushed as Kevin and William roared at the surprised expression on
their friend's face.
"That felt pretty good, even second hand," Carl admitted, raising his
hand and touching his lips. "If I didn't know you better, I'd say
you might swing a little in our direction, bud."
"Nah. That really was from him," William said with a twinkle in
Carl let Alice and Samantha out into the front yard to relieve
themselves for the night as Kevin and William grabbed the latter's bag
and laptop and slowly climbed the stairs to the second floor.
When they entered the bedroom, Cam
was fast asleep on the bedspread in his boxers and a T-shirt.
William and Kevin went over to the crib first, where William gently
Casey's blond curls. Kevin felt Casey's diaper--it was dry--and
bent down to kiss the little boy's head. After going over
and kissing Cam as well, he headed toward the door.
"Uh, where are you sleeping?" William asked before he left the room.
"I'm gonna give Carl a thrill and sleep with him tonight," Kevin said
with a grin.
"Laters, man," William said as they dapped.
Cam had heard their voices at that point and woke up, blinking from the
"Hey, dude," he said to William.
William grinned and went over to the bed, sitting on the side of
it. He bent down and hugged Cam where he lay, kissing him on the
cheek. Cam's crewcut had grown out, and William caressed Cam's
hair back off his forehead.
"Hey, Cameron. I'm glad to see ya, man," he said.
"Thanks for comin' down. Did ya catch a lot of shit about that?"
"Nope," William said. "You know my dad. He usually makes
the right call when it's important. The other guys are kinda
pissed off that they couldn't come along, but that's life."
"Yeah," Cam said.
"I'm gonna take a quick shower and sleep in here with you tonight, if
that's all right. I wanna talk to you."
"Well, okay," Cam said, surprised. "Uh, are you sure?"
He couldn't help watching as William shucked off
his Nikes and stripped off his T-shirt, cargo shorts and boxers before
heading for the bathroom. Lord, the kid's body was as beautiful
as he remembered, and the guy's package sure hadn't shrunk any since
seen it last! His ass was a wet dream in its perfection, and he
was really hung! No
wonder the ladies liked him so much and gave it up to him so
quickly. From Cam's point of view, William and Kevin were
neck-in-neck when it came to having beautiful, sculpted bodies.
William knelt down to get his shaving kit out of his bag, and then went
the bathroom to clean his teeth. Cam heard the shower door
open and then close after the water started running. He drifted
off to sleep
again. He woke up when William emerged from the shower and walked
back into the bedroom, toweling off as he did so. He wasn't shy
about his body, and Cam got a perfect view as William dried off before
finding a clean pair of boxers in his duffel bag and pulling them
on. Cam felt
himself chubbing up a bit for the first time since his surgery.
"Which side of the bed you want?" William asked.
Cam was more to the right side of the bed on his back, and stayed where
was. "This side is fine."
"Raise up, and let me pull down the bedspread," William said. He
did that and slid under the sheets, moving over toward Cam, who got a
whiff of the boy's slightly damp and healthy male smell. He liked
William's aroma, but it made him a little nervous.
Now fully awake and alert, Cam blushed as he looked into William's
face. "I've never slept in bed before with anybody but
Kevin," he said. Not
strictly true--there had been prom night during the last school year
least part of the night with his ex-girlfriend Teri McKee. But
that had been pretty much out of kindness, because he hadn't really
be with her.
"Don't sweat it," William said. "I've never been in bed with a
guy before. I'm not gonna hit on ya. I just wanna
talk." But no sooner had he said that than he moved next to Cam
and put his arm around him. Right on cue, Cam began to tremble at
his friend's touch.
William felt Cam's discomfort right away, of course, so he turned away
and on to his other side. "All right, you hold me, dude. I
want some body contact with you while we talk."
Despite his unease, Cam turned on to his side and spooned William, who
pulled Cam's arm around himself and interlocked his fingers with
Cam's. Feeling at
least somewhat more in control, Cam stopped trembling and lay quietly.
"How are you feeling?" William asked. "Physically, I mean."
"Not so good. I still have whip marks all over my body, and the
doctor just took the stitches outta my ass yesterday at the
hospital. I'm really sore. They gave me some pills to keep
my stools soft so I don't tear up my asshole when I take a shit."
"I'm sorry, man." William swallowed hard and was silent for a
minute. "I feel so bad for ya. We all do."
"How do you feel otherwise?"
"My head's fucked up. Fucked up bad. Kevin probably told
you that already."
"Yeah. But at least you know it. A lot of people who are
fucked up don't have a clue."
"You're gonna see a therapist?"
"Yes. I start a week from Monday."
"Good. Dr. Smith really helped Carl when he needed it."
"I know it."
"Listen, you're probably wondering why I came down here so soon after
you got hurt," William said.
"I wanted to let you know some things you might
have lost sight of in the middle of all the crap you're going through."
"Like how much everybody in this family loves you, Cam. I love
ya. If I were gay, I'd be on you like butter on toast.
You're the best of the best, no doubt about that. Ask any of us,
and we'll tell you how much we admire you. You're physically
and mentally strong--and you work at it. You're brave.
You always tell the truth, even when it's not convenient. You're
kind to everybody, especially to those who need it the most, and you've
taught all of us guys by example to do the same. You're sharp,
and you have a great sense of humor, but you never use your wit to hurt
anybody. You're loyal to those you care about. You're a
better Christian than any of us guys, and you don't try to hide
that from others just because it might not be in style...
"And there's one other thing you taught me, and I'm glad I learned it
now so I don't have to be an inhibited, cold hearted asshole all my
life. You taught me not to be shy about showing somebody
affection when I feel it, not even another guy, just because somebody
might not think it's 'manly' enough."
William paused and raised Cam's hand to his
lips, held it there for a minute and kissed it, and then lowered it.
Cam's eyes misted over, and he had a lump in his throat and couldn't
talk. He pulled William closer to himself.
"So, bud, let me sum things up," William said. "I'm not ashamed
to tell you you're a
beautiful person in every way,
including physically, from the top of your head to your cute butt to
the bottom of your feet. That's probably why those evil assholes
singled you out to do what they did to you. They're motherfucking
sick, and the sickos in this world always try to hurt and destroy
that's good and beautiful. I hope they get everything that's
fucking coming to them in prison."
They lay there quietly for several minutes until Cam finally spoke up.
"William, you don't have a clue..." Cam stopped talking as his
closed up. "You don't have a clue," he finally rasped out,
"how much I needed a little encouragement...a little lift in my life
right now. I love ya back so much, man. Thank you.
And ya know what? I
could say everything you said to me back to describe you, and it would
"I wish. But unfortunately, not so much."
"We'll have to agree to disagree about that."
William rolled over on to his back and looked at Cam. "There
is one other thing I want to
mention to you."
"I know you've had a hard time accepting any physical affection from
people because you've been hurt so bad. But Kevin is having a
hard time, too. He's feeling pretty rejected right now. I'm
not criticizing you, and he's not either. We both understand
what's been going on with you, at least a little bit. But
when we've been hurt so bad, we tend to take it out on somebody
we know will
never stop caring about us. Without realizing it, we do that just
because we can get away with it. But Kevin
needs to hear from you how much you love him right now, and that you're
deliberately pushing him away. He wants to be a healer for you,
just like you were for him after Heather's brothers beat him up so
bad. Can you cut him a little slack?"
Cam stared at him and nodded his head sadly. "I'm ashamed that
you had to point that out to me." His face
contorted, and he began to cry without making any noise, the tears
running down his
face and splashing on William's arm and chest. Cam shut his eyes,
look at his friend. It was the first time he'd cried since the
night he had been attacked.
William's eyes misted up. He reached over and gently rubbed the
tears off Cam's face.
"When did you say you start therapy?" William asked.
"I think I just did," Cam said. "But I start seeing the doctor a
week from Monday."
Nothing else was said, and they fell asleep lying close to each other.
When William woke up early the next morning, Cam's side of the bed was
empty. He used the bathroom, and then wandered down the hall in
his boxers to Carl's room. Peering in the door, he saw Kevin and
Carl in Carl's queen size bed, and lying beside Kevin, holding him, was
Cam. William smiled, and walking to the far side of the bed,
pushed Carl over a little and crawled in beside the sleeping boy.
In for a penny, in for a pound, he
thought to himself as he pulled up the covers and drifted off to sleep
The four boys woke up in the same bed about an hour later, and had
themselves a good laugh about it. Kevin was ecstatic to wake up
beside him, and spirited him away to their own bathroom for a good
shower together. He washed Cam lovingly, taking care not to hurt
his partner's wounds. And then Cam washed him. They held
each other under the spray when they were finished.
"Kev, I'm sorry I've been such a prick," Cam said to him softly as he
held Kevin chest to chest. "I don't know what the fuck I've been
doing. I didn't mean to push you away from me."
"I know you didn't. I'm curious. Just what did William say
to you last night, anyway?" Kevin asked.
"He sort of reviewed my situation, I guess you'd say. I know I'm
not out of the woods yet, but he kind of gave me a little pep talk and
about what I was doing to everybody in the family and in my life,
especially to you."
"I've been worried about you," Kevin admitted. "Everybody
understood why you haven't been yourself, though."
"I know. But things are lookin' up, thanks to William. And
you. And Carl. And to the pills that Dr. Owens prescribed
for me. It's sort of like coming out of a bad dream."
Kevin held Cam's face in his hands, and kissed him gently.
"Love ya, man. You're back in the game! Listen, I'm gonna
see if Carl and William want to run," Kevin said. "You wanna go?"
"You guys run. I'm just gonna walk and jog a little, maybe.
My asshole is still sore."
"Okay. But I'll walk with you if you want me to."
"No, you run. I don't want ya gettin' flabby on me."
"No way that's gonna happen!" Kevin laughed.
They dried off and dressed for the beach, and met Carl and William
downstairs in the kitchen. Maria was delighted to see that Cam
was obviously starting to function better, and gave him a hug and a
kiss. They all turned down Maria's offer to fix them breakfast in
favor of glasses of orange juice, and headed for the beach. Cam
refused the others' offers to walk with him, and after doing their
stretches, the boys took off with
the collies down
They ran at a good pace. Carl pointed out to William the house
where Eric Clymer and his friends had dragged Cam. There was
still yellow police tape surrounding the yard and sealing the
doors. William shook his head and turned his attention back to
Kevin looked at him. "William, I don't know exaqctly what you
said to Cam
last night, but it made a world of difference, bro," he said.
"Thanks so much for talking to him. And thanks for coming down
here. I know you're a busy guy."
"I know you'd do it for me if I was in Cam's shoes. All the guys
wanted to be here."
* * *
Cam followed the guys when they took off, walking and then jogging
intermittently toward the scene of his degradation. As he neared
the still-empty house with yellow police tape on it, his stomach began
He stopped in his tracks, staring up at the house where Eric and his
cronies had mistreated him. He began to think about what those
assholes had done to him, and leaned over with his hands on his knees
and began to gasp for breath.
At that point, by a sheer act of will, he took control of his
breathing, did a 360 and headed home, pleased that at least he'd had
the guts to get near the scene of the crime. When he reached
Alex's house, he sat down on the deck to wait for the guys to get back
A fresh breeze off the bay wafted over him, and for the first time
since he'd been brutalized, he felt glad to be alive.
© 2010 Don Hanratty
Sorry about the delay between chapters. Vacation was good, but
it's good to be back at the computer.