Dustin

Chapter 5
Massage Time
2005 Julien Gregg
Edited by Bruce

This story is about homosexual teenagers.  If you are offended by this kind of story, then you shouldn't read mine.  If it is not legal for you to read erotic fiction where you live, then you should not read this story.  If you have questions or comments, email me.  You can also visit my webpage.  There is exclusive story there, and you can join my mailing list to be notified when I post to a story.  This story is copyrighted, so please do not duplicate it in whole or in part without permission.


While sitting in the waiting room at the hospital with Charlie, I thought about the last conversation I'd had with my father.  Not when I'd called across the street for Charlie.  He'd merely hung up on me after only saying hello.  I was thinking about the conversation I'd had with him the day before everything had gone wrong.  I'd just come home from school, and he was getting ready to leave for a business dinner.  He'd asked about how I was doing in my studies and if I'd thought about what I was going to do about my mowing jobs after I went off to college.
It had been decided, until Keith happened, that I would go to The University Of Illinois at Carbondale, so I would have to figure out what to do with the mowing jobs I'd had lined up so far.  My dad had told me that I should consider hiring someone to do them for me while I was at school, and I agreed to think about that.

It had been a simple conversation, and although I wouldn't say that my father and I had ever been especially close, we'd always regarded each other with respect.  Now, all of that was gone with my father hating me for something that I couldn't change.  Charlie told me that our parents didn't believe what Keith had told them about what had happened between the two of us, but my father still hated me for being gay.  It had hurt like crazy at first, but I'd gotten over it surprisingly fast.  Like I said, we'd never been all that close to begin with.

Now, though, father was being worked on by a team of medical personnel, and all I could think of was that I wished for the simple conversations that we used to have in the past.  I wished that we could just go back in time to the day before everything had changed between us and be normal again.

I wondered what my father would be like now that he'd had a heart attack.  Would he want to change things between us?  Would he instantly be able to accept my sexuality?  I wasn't that naive, and I certainly wasn't stupid.  I knew that a heart attack wouldn't change everything about him.  Was I being stupid and naive to hope that it might soften him a bit?  Was I even wrong to hope that he might be able to accept me at all?

He'd basically stopped talking to Charlie when he'd joined the reserve, but he hadn't declared him dead to him.  That honor, he'd bestowed upon me with apparently very little thought.  I guess the difference between having a soldier for a son and having a gay son was quite easy for my father to see. He simply decided that he could stomach a soldier but not a queer.

My father wasn't like other fathers at all.  In all of my life, I don't remember my father ever playing with me or Charlie, not even when we were little boys.  He hadn't played catch with either of us or done any of the things that other fathers did with their children. My mother wasn't much different than my father in that respect.  Sure, she showed us more affection than he did, but even with her it was reserved.  My parents weren't the type to hug or embrace their children. Showing affection wasn't something that either of us learned from our parents.  Of course, we knew that they loved us, or at least, I'd thought they did.
As I sat there thinking, it dawned on me that I shouldn't have been so surprised by the way things had worked out between me and my father.  After all, how many times had I heard him use the word 'queer' as I was growing up?  He never used the word 'homosexual' or 'gay person', it was always 'queer'.  Hell, when he'd found out about Tommy and Steve, he'd all but forbidden me to have anything to do with either of them again.

It also shouldn't have surprised me that my mother had gone along with his decision to put me out of the house.  She'd always been the meek and mild parent of the duo.  Any time my father decided something, if she agreed or not, she went along with it.  She'd been the one to remind me that Tommy and Steve weren't really welcome at the house for poker parties anymore when I was getting ready to call Tommy to invite them shortly after Dad had made his statements about their "disgusting lifestyle".

Ironically, my worry over my father's condition turned to anger while I sat there and thought about the way he was.  With every memory of every time he'd said something derogatory about homosexuals, I got even more angry at him.  In fact, I couldn't believe that I'd ever been upset over his reaction to my sexuality. Sure, his initial reaction could have been born from the lies that Keith had told him, but that still didn't excuse him.  Charlie had told him that Keith was a liar, and still he hated me.

"Its going to be all right, D," said Charlie from beside me, and it wasn't until he'd said that, that I realized I was gripping the arm rests of the chair I was sitting in so tightly that my knuckles were turning white.

"He hates me," I said, relaxing my grip and wincing at the pain in my hands from gripping the arm rests so tightly.  "He really hates me."

"He doesn't hate you, Dusty," he said.  "He just needs time."

"Time?" I spat hatefully.  "Time to what, Charlie? Time to come up with an even more hateful thing to say to or about me?"

"Dustin, stop," demanded Charily in a warning tone.
"No," I said, ignoring it.  "Parents are supposed to love their children unconditionally, Charlie. Our parents don't. Our parents put several conditions on their love for us. Why should I be so upset about this?"

"He had a heart attack!" gasped my brother.

"And that's tragic," I said.  "I was talking about being upset with his decision to hate me. Why should I be upset about it? He's the one with a problem. Not me."

"So what?" he asked, and I could tell he was getting angry.  "You're going to hate him now?"

"I don't even know him well enough to hate him," I replied.  "Tell me, how well do you know our father?"

"What are you talking about?" he asked.

"I'm talking about the fact that every conversation I've ever had with him in my life, every time he ever said more than three words to me," I said.  "He never really showed any interest in the way I was feeling or what had happened in my day. He always asked the right questions, but every time I answered, he stopped paying any attention to me."

"That's stupid," he said.

"What's stupid," I said, standing up, "is me sitting in this waiting room, waiting for news about a man that hates me."

"Where are you going?" he asked, standing as well.

"I'm going home," I said.  "You can call me and tell me what's happening, Charlie. Why should I stay here if he hates me? Why should I even worry about him? He doesn't worry about me."

"Dustin, don't do this!" he cried, but I turned and walked out of the waiting room.

I walked out of the hospital and got into my truck. As I drove home, my anger got worse.  If my father hated me so much, then I would just hate him right back.  I supposed I should have wondered where all of this anger and hatred was coming from, but I didn't at the time.  All I knew was that I was tired of feeling sorry for myself over a father that would never change.

As I drove home, I got even more angry.  Only, this time, I was getting angry with Charlie for defending Dad.  Sure, the man had just had a heart attack, but that didn't mean that what I'd said about him was untrue.  Charlie grew up in that house along with me, so he knew what I was talking about.  It wasn't as if I was saying anything that he didn't know.  They'd almost disowned him for joining the reserve.

It was almost eight when I got back to the house, and Vince, Phillip and Tommy were the only ones still home.  I vaguely remembered that Vince was off that day, and Tommy was working the afternoon shift.  They were quietly eating breakfast when I came in through the side door of the house.

"How's your father?" asked Vince as soon as he saw me.

"I have no idea," I replied, walking through the kitchen to the basement door.

"Didn't they tell you anything?" he asked.

"If they have any news, Charlie's there, they can tell him," I said.

"Ok," he said slowly.

"Phillip, did you want to help me out today?" I asked, pausing at the door.

"Sure," he said, and I could hear the confusion in his voice.  "Do I have time to eat this?"

"I have to change, so sure," I said.

I decided to just put my parents out of my mind for the day and get on with my own responsibilities. Charlie could stay at the hospital for Mom and Dad.  I had lawns to take care of.  I changed into a pair of shorts and a different shirt and headed back upstairs. Phillip was waiting for me, and I could see that both Tommy and Vince wanted to say something, but at that moment, I wasn't in the mood to hear anything about my father, so I just nodded to them and walked out the door.

I was sure that Phillip had many questions, but I was thankful that he didn't ask any of them.  We were both silent all the way to the Donovan house.  We worked quietly, too.  It wasn't as if we spent the days talking over the mowers, though, so that wasn't new. I let him use the mower that I'd bought for Charlie to use, and he mowed their back yard while I stayed in the front.

I did everything I could to keep my mind off of my parents, and for the most part it worked out pretty well.  I was more concerned with the way I'd left things with Charlie.  He wasn't exactly keen on being walked away from, and that's exactly what I'd done.  I didn't know what to do to fix any rift between us that my actions might have caused, because it would require a discussion about our parents, and that wasn't something I was ready to discuss with anyone, not even Charlie.

However, as we ate lunch, my resolve didn't just break, it shattered completely.  We were sitting in the park, eating lunch, when I just suddenly stared talking about my father.  Phillip listened without saying anything as I told him about the man that hated me.  I noticed that as I talked, the tone of my voice started out flat as if I felt nothing.  But it changed throughout my speech, and at one point I know I heard the sadness that I was really feeling inside over the fact that I had essentially lost my parents.  I eventually heard the bitterness that I also felt because of the same thing.

I didn't really know what to think about my parents anymore.  On one hand, I felt betrayed and hurt by my father's reaction to my sexuality.  On the other hand, I was so angry with both of my parents that I just wanted to cut them out of my life.  It was as if the two sides of me were trying to rip me in two.

I knew what my father expected from both of his sons. He'd expected that we'd be good boys, grow up, be successful and get married, so we could give him grandchildren he would never hold or pay much attention to.  Well that just wasn't going to happen. At least, it wasn't going to happen in my life. Charlie could still get married and have children, but Dad wouldn't pay any more attention to Charlie's kids than he would have paid to mine.

"Who says you can't have children, Dustin?" asked Phillip, pausing with his fork just inches from his mouth.

"I know that I can have children," I said.  "It isn't going to happen, though."
"Why?" he asked.  "Don't you want children some day?"

"Oh, I'd love to have children," I said.  "I have to be realistic, though. I'm gay, Phillip."

"And?" he asked, blinking at me.
"And what?" I replied.

"Being gay doesn't mean you can't have children, Dustin," he said.  "Many gay men have children."

"I know that," I said.  "I just don't see it ever happening."

"Well just so long as you don't think its because your gay," he said.

We were quiet after that, and we didn't speak again until we were on our way to the Bryer lawn.  Even then we just talked about the fact that my mower was acting up.  I'd been having trouble getting it to start all day long.  It was full of gas, and the oil was at the right level, but it didn't want to start.  After finally getting it started, the motor died three times.

"Do you mind getting home a bit later?" I asked him as we pulled into the Bryers' driveway.  "I think its time I got a new mower for myself."

"Don't you want to stop by the hospital and check on your dad?" he asked, gaining a hard look from me as I took the keys out of the ignition.

"I'm staying away from the hospital," I told him.  "I thought I explained that earlier."

"Dustin, he's your dad," he said, giving me a pleading look.

"I don't want to talk about this anymore," I said, opening my door.  "If you want, I'll drop you at Tommy's before I go to Sears."

"That's ok," he said.  "I'll go with you."

The whole time we worked on the Bryer lawn, we were silent.  The only words that passed between us were over the fact that my mower seemed to have finally given up completely.  We had to switch off with the new mower, so it took us longer to get done.  It looked like my decision to buy a new mower was a good one.

After we finished the Lake lawn, the final lawn of the day, we headed off to Sears in silence.  I could tell that he wanted to say something, but for whatever reason, he held back.  If it had anything to do with me and my father, then I was glad that he held it back.  I didn't want to talk about my father or think about him for the rest of the day.

I knew that it would be impossible, because I thought about him just about every other second.  Then there was the fact that I'd walked out of the hospital, leaving Charlie standing there calling after me.  That wasn't exactly my smartest move.  When Charlie had something he wanted to talk to you about, he wouldn't stop until he was heard.  I was almost certain that he'd be waiting for me when I got back to Tommy's.

Sure enough, Charlie was sitting at the dining room table when Phillip and I walked in the side door of Tommy's house.  I'd expected him to be pissed off, but instead he looked tired and sad.  His eyes were red, and it looked like he'd been crying.  I knew what had happened instantly as I saw the pity filled look in his eyes.

"Dusty," he said with a cracked voice.  He got up out of the chair and walked over to me, placing his hands on both of my arms.  He looked me right in the eye. "Dad had another heart attack. The doctor said it was massive, and there was too much damage to his heart. He died, Dustin."

Then his arms were wrapped around me so tightly that I thought I'd suffocate.  He was mumbling something incoherent into my neck as he embraced me.  I thought of a million things at that moment, but I can't for the life of me remember even one of them.  I was too stunned to return the embrace.  I don't think the truth of what he'd said had really sunk into my brain yet.

My father couldn't be dead.  He'd had a heart attack. People survived those all of the time.  My father was supposed to get better, so we could argue this out, and I could make him accept it and deal with it.  This wasn't right.  I didn't know how to deal with this. He wasn't supposed to be dead. Was it my fault? Did I drive him to a heart attack with my sexuality?

Of course that was ridiculous, but I couldn't get that thought out of my head.  This was the only conclusion that I could come to.  The last time I'd head my father consciously talking about me, he'd been saying how he hated me.  His anger and hatred could have lead to a heart attack for all I knew, but was that my fault?

"Where's Mom?" I heard myself asking.  I didn't remember actually forming the thought to ask about her whereabouts.

"She's still at the hospital," he said.  "Lindy and Jase are there."

Lindy and Jase Campbell were my parents' closest friends.  Their sons, Billy, Harry and Chad were younger than me and Charlie, but we'd always gotten along with them.  The Campbells had always thought highly of me and Charlie, but I bet that opinion had changed when they heard about me.  They probably thought my father's death was my fault, too.

"Where are the boys?" I asked stupidly.  I knew that I was really just trying to think of anything I could to keep from talking about Dad.

"At home, I guess," said Charlie as he finally let go of me and stepped back.  His face looked shocked almost.  "Dustin, did you hear what I said?"

"I heard you," I said.  "What do we do now?" "What do you mean?" he demanded.  "Dustin, I just told you that Dad is dead."

"I know what you said, Charles," I replied hard.

"Do you care?" he barked.

"Fuck you, Charlie," I spat.  I couldn't believe he'd ask that.  "Of course I care. He was my father, too. Now he's dead, and I'll never get to tell him how sorry I am for making him so angry that he had a heart attack. I'll have to live with this for the rest of my life, Charlie. There. Happy now? I killed my father."

My voice shook with each word I spoke, and by the time I'd said all of it, I was sitting in a dining room chair.  My knees were weak, and my hands were shaking. I could feel hot tears running down my cheeks.  I'd said it out loud now, and I knew it was true.  This was all my fault, and the silence of my brother only reinforced it for me.  I had killed my father.

"Killed Dad?" he asked slowly, sinking down into the chair beside me.  "Dusty, you didn't kill Dad. He had a heart attack . . ."

"Because I'm gay, and he couldn't handle it," I said, cutting him off.  "He couldn't handle it, so he stewed over it so much that his heart couldn't take it, Charlie. It killed him, and its my fault."

"Dustin," gasped Andy, and it was then that I realized that the entire household was home and all eyes were on me.  "You can't believe that. You aren't responsible for your father's heart attack. It was a medical problem."

"That's right," said Charlie quickly.  "The doctor told Mom that Dad had been ignoring the signs for years. He said that there was a defect in Dad's heart, and that was the reason for the heart attacks. Dustin, you had nothing to do with this."

"A defect?" I asked, sure that I'd heard them wrong.

"That's right, Dustin," he replied.  "The doctor said he was born with it. Any tests they'd have done wouldn't have found it unless they were looking for it. That's what caused the heart attack, Dustin. Not you."

I didn't know what to think about that.  If he'd had a defect all of his life, then why hadn't he had a heart attack sooner than he had? Maybe I aggravated something and caused it to happen when it wouldn't have otherwise.  Either way you looked at it, it seemed it was completely possible that his death was still my fault.

I thought about that while Charlie answered questions put forth from the other members of the household.  I didn't pay any attention to the questions or answers until I heard him say something about me moving back into the house.

"What?" I asked.  "Mom doesn't want me in the house, Charlie."

"How can you say that?" he demanded angrily.  "You told me that she kept asking you to come home."

"I don't know," I said.  "I just know that she doesn't want me there."

"And what are you basing this knowledge on?" he asked.

"The last three times I talked to her, she just seemed cold to me," I said.  "Asking me to come home wasn't what she really wanted. I think it was just something she thought she had to do so people wouldn't think ill of her."

"Dustin!" he gasped.  "How can you say that?"

"You don't know her the way I do," I insisted.  "Trust me, Charlie. She doesn't want me in the house."

"That's ridiculous, Dustin," he said.  He was getting angry, and I didn't know what to say to calm him down. I knew what I was talking about.  "She sits in the house and cries when she looks at your pictures. Did you know that? Does that sound like she doesn't want you in the house?"

"Look," I said slowly, "why don't you talk to her about it. If she says she wants me to come home, then I will."

"This is stupid," he sighed.  "Why don't you just go with me to pick Mom up, so you can talk to her yourself?"

"I'm not ready for that," I replied quickly.  "You talk to her, and then you call me and let me know what she said."

"Whatever," he said, getting up out of his chair.  He was out the side door before I could say a word. That left me alone with my house mates and they were all staring at me.  I didn't like that, so I excused myself to take a shower.  I didn't know what to think about Mom sitting and crying over looking at my pictures.  I just knew that she'd stopped calling to ask me to come home after the second time she'd called.  Since then, whenever I talked to her or saw her, she looked and sounded cold.  The last time I'd talked to her on the telephone, her voice had sounded irritated as if she were irritated to be talking to me at all.

Charlie was wrong.  I don't know how I knew it, but I did know it.  She didn't want me at home any more than Dad had.  I still wasn't so sure that I hadn't aggravated Dad's heart problem, either.  I knew absolutely nothing about heart defects, but I did know how upset my father was over what Keith had told him. Even after Charlie had corrected what he'd been told, Dad was still upset with me for being gay. Everyone avoided me for the rest of the evening until supper.  Then they sat around the table being extra quiet and avoiding my eyes when I looked at them. Being Monday night, I didn't have to do dishes, so when I was finished with my meal, I went back down to my room.  Not a word had been spoken since Charlie left, and I was beginning to think that maybe living in the house with Tommy and the others wouldn't work out after all.

I went to bed early, and although I'd promised myself that I wouldn't cry over my father's death, I cried myself to sleep.  I thought about what could have been more than what had been, and I wished, for the first time in years, that I was straight.  Maybe if I was straight, none of this would have ever happened. Sure, the doctor said that Dad had a defect in his heart, so the heart attack could have happened anyway, but I didn't think so.
My alarm went off far too early for me the next morning.  I was tempted to push the snooze button, but I could smell myself.  I hadn't showered when I got home the day before, so I was getting pretty ripe.  I stumbled out of bed and grabbed some shorts and a t shirt for the day.  Phillip wasn't in his bed when I passed it, but I didn't think anything about that.

He was sitting at the kitchen table when I came up from the basement.  He smiled uncertainly at me, and I tried to return his smile.  I was sure I wasn't successful, but I went on up the stairs to the shower without attempting to try again.  The shower did what it could to wake me up further and get me ready for the day.  Phillip had a cup of hot coffee waiting for me when I came back downstairs, and that did even more.

We didn't talk much at all that day, but each of that day's clients came out to extend their sympathies, and that nearly drove me over the edge.  By the time we left Mr. Brinkman's lawn, the last of the day, I was almost snapping at everything that Phillip said.  He was only trying to make small talk while staying as far away from any member of my family, and I felt like an ass every time I gave him a biting reply. When I saw Charlie sitting at the dining room table, I nearly turned around and went back outside.  I wasn't in the mood for round two of our argument, but I knew that putting it off wasn't going to cancel it.  I followed Phillip inside and sat across from my brother at the dining room table.  He looked at me for a few minutes, and I wondered if we were going to start screaming at each other.

"I just came by to let you know that the visitation is tonight from six to nine," he said as soon as I sat down.  "The funeral is tomorrow morning at ten."
I thought about that for a minute while I sat there across from my brother.  I didn't know if I could handle looking at my father in a coffin, so I decided that I wouldn't go to the visitation.

"What will everyone think if you're not there?" hissed Charlie when I told him that I wouldn't be at the visitation.  "What will Mom think?"

"Charlie, you haven't even told me if Mom wants me in the house," I said quickly.  "How would she feel about sitting next to me for three straight hours tonight?"

"This is stupid, Dustin," he sighed, sitting back in his chair.  "Of course she wants you there. She wants you to come home, too. If you would just get the thought out of your head that she hates you, then you'd see the lunacy in what you're saying about her. She's our mother, Dustin."

Because of the conversation, I found myself standing next to Phillip and Vince, wearing my best Sunday suit inside Fulton's Funeral Home.  There were so many people there, and I had to talk to so many of them. They each expressed condolences, and I thanked them for being there.  My mother was sitting in the front row with Lindy Campbell.  I had no idea where Billy and his brothers were, but then I wasn't really looking for them, either.

I stayed from six to seven, but I never once stepped close enough to the coffin to see my father's body.  I left with Phillip before Charlie could insist again that I join him and Mom in the front row.  I didn't think that my mother would cause a scene right there in the funeral home, but I wasn't taking any chances, either.  She hadn't said a word to me when I came in, and I knew that she saw me.
Once I was back at Tommy's house, there was nothing for me to do.  Andy prepared light snacks for everyone, and we all sat around the dining room to eat them.  Not much was said, but we did talk about the funeral in the morning.  Tommy and Steve were taking one car, and Andy said that Phillip and I should ride with him, so I wouldn't have to drive.  I agreed to it instantly, but not because I didn't think I would be up to driving myself.  I was in a daze, and everything just seemed completely unreal to me.

I'd already called all of my clients for the next day and told them that I wouldn't be able to take care of their lawns.  They'd all understood and quickly rescheduled for Sunday with no arguments.  That meant that there was nothing left for me to do, so I went downstairs to bed.  It was early for me, but I was exhausted.  I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.

The next morning, it was Phillip who woke me up.  I'd forgotten to even set my alarm, so I was thankful that he woke me.  I showered and dressed in the same suit I'd worn the night before joining the rest of the household in the kitchen for breakfast.  Not much was said again as we sat together and quietly ate the waffles that Andy had made.

When it was time to leave, Phillip and I climbed into Andy's car in silence.  We were silent for the entire trip across town to the funeral home, and, for some reason, I was shocked to see so many cars in the parking lot when we got there.  However, the biggest shock was that Keith's car was parked next to his mother's.

"Andy, do me a favor, please," I asked as we parked at the opposite end of the parking lot.

"What's that?" he asked.

"Keep Keith away from me," I said, glancing at him briefly as I opened my door.

"Sure," he said.

When we walked into the funeral home, I was surprised to see so many floral arrangements.  There'd been less than half of the amount of them there the night before.  I took a few minutes to look at the ones that hadn't been there to see who they'd come from.  Most of them were from my clients, but a few were from people I didn't even know.

"Why didn't you ride with us?" asked Charlie's voice from behind me as I perused the flowers.

"Andy brought me," I said without turning around to face him.

"Well you will be riding home with us, right?" he asked as I finally turned from the flowers.

He led me by my arm to the bank of chairs at the front of the parlor.  The coffin sat just three feet from those chairs, and my mother was already seated.  There were only three chairs, and I was happy that Charlie sat between me and Mom.  Her eyes hardened when she looked at me, and I had to resist the urge to turn around and walk back to Andy and Phillip. I can't even tell you what verse the minister from the church we rarely went to read from the podium.  I can tell you even less of what the people who came forward to say a few words said or even who had come forward. I just sat there in a daze the whole time.  I didn't shed a single tear until Lindy got up and sang Amazing Grace.  Then I unleashed a river of tears.

As the service ended, people came forward to say a few words to us as they left the funeral home.  We stood up to shake the hands of most and accept hugs from a few.  I was shocked when I found myself seated across from my mother in the limo on our way to the cemetery. She said nothing for the entire trip, and she kept a tissue in her hand to dab at her eyes ever few seconds.

We were seated in a row of chairs facing the closed coffin under a navy blue tent, and I listened to the same minister deliver another speech.  Again, I couldn't tell you for the life of me what he said.  I just stared at the coffin as he talked.  I was vaguely aware of walking back to the limo and climbing in beside Charlie.

I followed Charlie into the house behind my mother, who went straight upstairs to wash her face and freshen up as people started to arrive from the cemetery.  I just stood in the dining room and watched as my mother and brother walked up the stairs.  Tommy and Steve stood with me for a few minutes, but they disappeared to talk with Vince and Andy about something shortly after I watched my mother go upstairs.

I noticed Keith sitting at the dining room table with his mother, and I wanted so badly to yell at him and make him leave.  I couldn't believe that he had the nerve to show up.  He kept glancing at me, but he never said anything or even nodded his head at me.  I was staring at him so intently that I didn't even notice Phillip step up beside me.

"What are you doing here?" demanded my mother when she came back downstairs.  I guess it had escaped her attention that I'd rode home in the limo with her and Charlie after the funeral. I don't even think she'd realized that I'd followed her into the house.

"Charlie said that you wanted me home," I said stupidly.  Everyone stopped talking, and all eyes were on us.  "I wasn't going to come, but he insisted. I rode home with the two of you in the limo, and here I am."

"Oh, I see," she said hatefully, taking a step closer to me.  "You thought that since your father is dead, you're magically welcome in the house again. Well, Dustin, let me tell you something. I blame you for your father's death."

"Mother!" gasped Charlie with wide eyed disbelief.  I hadn't heard him come downstairs.

"That's right," she said, giving me one of the most evil grins I've ever seen in my life.  "You killed your father, Dustin. Are you happy with yourself now? Are you proud that your father couldn't accept you and thinking about you drove him to have a heart attack? Are you satisfied?"

"Mother, stop," cried Charlie, making both of us jump as he came all the way into the dining room.  "You don't mean that."

"Oh, but I do, Charles," she said, turning to face him.  "I tolerated his presence at the funeral, but I won't have him in this house. He's vile and dirty, and he killed your father with his wickedness. The Bible says that what he does is an abomination, and he will rot in Hell. I will not have him dragging me down with him."

"I was wrong, huh, Charlie?" I said coldly.  "They love me so much."

"Dusty . . ."

"If you don't see her for what she is now, then I guess there's nothing more to talk about," I said glaring hatefully at my mother.

"Why are you still standing in my house?" demanded my mother, glaring daggers at me.

"Don't worry, Mrs. Granger," I spat.  "I won't be defiling myself with your presence again."

"What nerve!" she hissed, she was ready to hurl more hurtful things at me, but I cut her off.

"Go to Hell, Mother," I said, turning to leave. I slammed the side door on my way out, and I was shaking with anger.  How could she say that to me? I hadn't killed my father.  My being gay had nothing to do with his heart attack.  That was all his own damned fault for not eating right, or something.  Logic wasn't doing anything to settle me down, though.
My day didn't get any better.  As soon as I got around to the front of the house, I was confronted with Keith.  He was standing on the front porch, about to ring the doorbell when he saw me walk around the side of the house.  For a moment, he just stared at me as I angrily glared back at him.  What in the world was he doing at the house? He had no right to show up like that.

"Dustin," he said finally.  "I heard about your dad, and I wanted to tell you how sorry I am . . ."

"You're sorry?" I demanded, cutting him off.  "What are you sorry for, Keith? Are you sorry that you had sex with me and then told everyone I tried to rape you? Are you sorry that I had to miss my own graduation because everyone stared at me and whispered about me? Are you sorry that my parents threw me out of the house, or are you sorry because my father died hating me? Tell me, Keith. Just what the Hell are you sorry for, exactly?"

I watched as he put his head down, but I didn't stick around to hear any answers.  I walked off, leaving him to stare after me as I went.