STANDARD WARNING: This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to individuals, living or dead, is pure coincidence. Do not read this story if you are offended by man-to-man romance or sex. Do not read if you are underage according to the laws in the country, state/province, county, city/town/village or township where you live. There is sex between males. You have been warned!
Copyright 2001 by Nick Archer.
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By Nick Archer
Brians mouth was agape at his sister. Matt glowered at her, Tommy and Jake simply didnt know what to make of her. For a heart-stopping moment the only sound was the screaming silence in the courtroom.
Judge Kildare glared at her over the top of her glasses. "This is highly irregular. This is Family Court; therefore all proceedings are supposed to be confidential. But in the interest of fairness and free speech, I will let you have your say. Bailiff, please remove anyone else not directly concerned with this case from the courtroom."
Several other people, apparently there waiting for a hearing with the judge, left the room.
"OK, Ms. Rivers, the floor is yours," Judge Kildare said to her. "Why do you object to this adoption?"
"Mr. Rosato is a known homosexual. And his roommate is his lover. I dont want Brian growing up in that environment."
"By the term known homosexual, how is it known? Did he tell you personally? Was it published somewhere? If so, Id like to know the name of that publication. It would save me a lot of time."
"Well, how is it known? Im curious as to how you discovered this fact."
"I heard it from someone else. He frequents a gay bar in Blue Island. He has never been married. And he has been seen holding hands and kissing Tim McGraw, his roommate."
"I see. Very observant of you. OK, lets assume, for the sake of argument that he is gay. What does that have to do with his being a parent?"
"I dont want Brian exposed to that lifestyle. Mr. Rosato is trying to convert Brian to homosexuality."
Matt almost exploded when she mentioned the term lifestyle. He hated that word used in conjunction with being gay. He wanted to scream at her: As if someone would choose to be discriminated against, outcast, and put themselves at risk for AIDS. Wisely, he kept his cool but only just. Brian had slipped his hand into Matts when she announced herself, and now Matt heard him whisper Ouch. Matt was so angry he was squeezing the boys hand like an orange.
"Ms. Rivers, youre talking about one of the finest parents ever to walk into this courtroom. Thats not just my opinion, it is backed up by the testimony of social workers familiar with the case. I dont care if hes gay, straight, or if he has sex with vegetables. What he does in the privacy of his bedroom is his business, as long as it stays there. And, frankly, I dont see it as any of your concern."
"No, its not. My concern is for Brian."
"And so is mine." She shuffled through a folder. "It says here that Brian lived with you in late 1992, shortly after your parents death. Is this correct?"
"So if you were so concerned about his welfare, why isnt he still living with you?"
Noreen reddened slightly. "He was arrested for curfew violation. The police suspected he has cruising a park."
"Since hes been with Mr. Rosato, hes had no further trouble with the law. Hes earned almost straight As in school, and he is enrolled in religious education. I can see your cause for concern," the judge added sarcastically. "Ms. Rivers, you and your husband were given the opportunity to raise Brian and you abdicated that responsibility to St. Lukes. St. Lukes, in turn, gave the chance to Mr. Rosato. Your guardianship was terminated at that time. But why dont we ask Brian what he thinks. Brian, if you had the opportunity to live with your sister or your brothers again, would you?"
Brian thought for a long time, and Matt worried about his response.
"No," he replied thoughtfully. "I would not like to see my sister. She threw me out of the house. I dont want to go back."
"What about your brothers?" the judge asked. "Would you like to live with them?"
"No, they havent shown any interest in me. I dont have any interest in them."
Judge Kildare looked up at Noreen, raised her eyebrows and grinned ever so slightly. "There you have it, Ms. Rivers."
"This is so unfair," she mumbled.
"Whats unfair about it? Help me understand."
"I want to save my youngest brother from the sin of homosexuality."
Matt stood up to rebut her statement, when he heard the judges voice. "I can handle this, Mr. Rosato." Matt sat down again, but he was so angry his right eye was twitching. "Ms. Rivers, this is my courtroom. My interest is Brians well being. I do not claim to know the will of the Almighty, but I do know these facts. Mr. Rosato is an excellent parent, and his roommate is doing a fine job as well. Homosexuality is something that a person is born with, like right-handedness. Of course, environment influences that, but no scientist will support the theory that it is a choice. I may not be God, but this is my courtroom. I make the decisions here based on the facts and not feelings, emotions, whims, or caprice. You are entitled to your opinion, of course. But nowhere is it illegal for a parent to be gay. Nowhere does it state that a parents sexuality has anything to do with their ability to be an effective parent. Plenty of straight parents appear in this courtroom that havent the foggiest idea how to handle their children. Lastly, Brians placement with Mr. Rosato was not an accident. Brian was placed with Mr. Rosato to help him deal with his sexuality."
While the judge was forcefully creating another orifice for Noreens fecal matter to escape, Tommy leaned over and whispered to Brian, who in turn leaned over and whispered to Matt.
When Matt felt like the judge came to a stopping point, he spoke. "May I approach the bench?"
"Please do, Mr. Rosato."
The spoke quietly for a moment, and then the Judge spoke to Noreen. "I am issuing a restraining order, Ms. Rivers. You and your brothers are forbidden to contact Brian in writing, physically, or electronically until his eighteenth birthday. I hope you learn to overcome your bigotry. It has cost you your youngest brother."
She started to scream. "You havent heard the end of this! God will punish the heathen! Ill appeal."
"Thats your privilege, Ms Rivers. Bailiff, please show her the door."
With a grip on her upper arm, he escorted Brians sister out the door. She was still screaming, and her obnoxious voice echoed off the marble walls in the hall.
"Im way behind schedule," she apologized to Matt. "Well have to hurry this along. Brian, would you join Mr. Rosato at the bench?"
Brian and Matt stood facing each other. Matt put his hand on Brians right shoulder.
"Let it be known that on this day, April 1, 1994, Brian Kowalski became Brian Rosato, the son of Matthew Rosato. So sealed in the Family Court of Cook County, Judge Kathleen S. Kildare presiding. Congratulations!"
Matt hugged Brian. "I love you, son," Matt said as he engulfed him in his arms.
"I love you, too, Dad."
Tommy and Jake joined them for a group hug.
"I love you, too, Tommy. And you, too, Jake."
It was only when they parted that Matt notices wet spots on his tie. Brian was crying.
As they made their way down the center aisle to the doors, the Judge called after them; "Good luck! See you when you adopt the next boy. Next case, please."
The day was cool and blustery. "For a moment, I thought that she was going to say April Fools!" Jake said.
As Matt unlocked the Jeep, Brian commented, "Im so tired all of a sudden."
"Me, too," Matt agreed. "It took a lot out of me. I was going to take us out to lunch, but I think Ive changed my mind."
Tommy and Jake groaned. "We wanted to go out to lunch."
"Tell you what," He said ruffling Tommys hair, "well make reservations and go out to dinner when Tim gets home."
Since it was Brians day, Tommy and Jake allowed him the seat of honor without discussion or argument. Brian sat shotgun. They rode in silence, but every so often at a traffic light, Matt would look over at the adolescent boy in the passenger seat and smiled from ear to ear.
Matt watched the street as he drove, but at stoplights, glanced over at Brian. He knew every line of his face. He knew his eyelashes and fuzz on his upper lip. Matt knew when a new blemish broke out on his chin. He knew the contour of his shoulders and how a T-shirt hung on his slim torso. More than that, he knew Brians soul. They had learned about one another and the learning turned into understanding, and finally into love.
Isnt life interesting? He thought. I would have never predicted this. I just met him a little over a year ago. Now he is my son, forever. Its a little scary to think that he is the legacy I am going to leave this world. The way I parent him is going to ripple throughout his life like a pebble in a still pond. It will affect the kind of parent he will be, and what kind of relationships he has. Its an awesome responsibility. But, its also exciting.
Once home, Matt hugged Brian once more. He raised his chin gently and gazed into his blue eyes. "I love you, my son." He kissed the top of the boys head. "Now, youre really home."
"Theres no place like home. Theres no place like home."
They both laughed and Matt hugged him tighter before swatting his behind affectionately and releasing him. Brian went off to play on the computer, or watch TV or read. It really didnt matter. He was home for real.
"Im hungry," Jake complained as he walked in the kitchen.
"When arent you hungry, Walking Stomach?" When he spotted the slightly hurt look on Jakes face, he did his best Dr. Ruth imitation. "You are a growink boy und your body needs lots of fuel." He pulled a pot out of a lower cabinet. "I was going to make some soup and grilled cheese for lunch. Maybe youd like to help?"
"Im not a good cook."
"Of course you are. You can read and follow directions, cant you?"
"Then, you can cook. Cooking is simply following directions. Ive never understood people who are proud when they say they cant cook. Its like saying youre proud you cant follow directions."
Jake pushed up the sleeves of his sweatshirt. Matt handed him a loaf of bread, margarine, and cheese. Jake started to spread the bread with the margarine.
Mat loved the easy camaraderie of doing an activity with one of the boys. It was one of his talents. Matt knew instinctively and from experience it was one of the keys to getting the boys to open up and talking about their feelings. Adolescent boys are energy personified and one of the goals was to channel their energy constructively. Keeping their hands busy somehow made the communication easier. Some of his most serious talks had resulted from tickling sessions, or during a game of Monopoly, or swimming. The activity provided a safe structure for the boy to open up.
And so it was that afternoon with Matt and Jake in the kitchen. Matt discovered that he didnt have two-of-a-kind soups, so he combined minestrone and tomato.
"Ewww! Thats going to be gross!"
"Not at all. Just wait. Ill throw in a pinch of oregano and basil and it will be delicious. Youll see."
In the largest frying pan they had, Jake started grilling four sandwiches. "Matt?"
"Are you still mad at me?"
"For messing around with Brian?"
As he stirred the soup, Matt looked thoughtfully at the boy. He was so different from Brian in a lot of ways. "No, why?"
"I thought you might be. I was a little scared."
"That you would yell at me like you did Brian."
Matt grinned wryly. "No, Ive learned my lesson. Yelling doesnt accomplish anything. Better turn those over. I think theyre done."
Jake flipped over the sandwiches. "Those look good, Jake. Perfectly done."
"Im afraid I might be gay," Jake blurted.
"Lets make four more sandwiches. Im sure everyone will eat two." Matt started to spread four slices with margarine. "What makes you think you are gay, Jake?"
"The way I feel about Brian."
"Brian has a lot going for him. Hes sensitive and friendly and talented and smart. He cares about people. He cares a lot about you, Jake." Matt avoided using the word love. It would further confuse Jake. "And hes very handsome. You are an adolescent boy, Jake. And theres certain things that come with the territory."
"Cums with the territory?" He playfully elbowed Matt.
Matt laughed. "Very funny," he said dryly. Jake removed the perfectly toasted sandwiches to a dish. "Your body is changing very rapidly and you are curious about those changes. Sometimes, were curious about how guys around us are maturing. Do they measure up, so to speak? I know I wondered the same thing when I was your age. Then, on top of this, youre finding out who you are. Youre looking for your identity. Naturally, you look to other guys to compare yourself to. At your age, anything can be erotic. When you find someone you admire or feel close to, it can trigger erotic thoughts and feelings. None of this means you are gay, Jake. You are perfectly normal. On top of this youre a little concerned about your future, and that uncertainty can make you act on your feelings."
Jake flipped the second batch of grilled cheese sandwiches. He put the spatula on the counter, and turned to face Matt. "I love him."
Matt smiled wistfully. "Thats a good thing, Jake," he said quietly. "I know he loves you."
"But I wanted to touch him."
Matt decided to play stupid. "Thats OK, too. You can hug him, I wont tell anyone."
"I...I mean I wanted to touch him...."
"Oh, I get it," Matt said as if Jakes message had just dawned on him. "You wanted to be intimate with him."
Jake simply nodded.
"Better turn those over before they burn." After he did so, Matt placed his hands on Jakes shoulders and looked into his eyes. He phrased his next statement very carefully. "Im not telling you not to do it. Because if I do, youll do the opposite of what I tell you."
Jake started to protest.
Matt silenced him. "Listen to me. Brian might want to take it to an emotional level you are not ready for. You have to know that. You are basically straight, Jacob. Brian basically is not. The two of you having that sort of relationship is not appropriate and its going to cause more problems within the house. Look what its done already. Just think about it, Jake. Emotions are a terrific thing, but how you act on them separates the children from the adults."
"I...I think I understand."
"Atta boy, Jake." They parted and went back to their individual duties. Jake watched the sandwiches while Matt pulled soup bowls and plates from the cupboards.
"How long is that going to be?"
"Me being here?"
"As I told you from the beginning, as far as Im concerned you can stay here until youre eighteen. I love you, you little shit."
"You wont adopt me, will you?"
"I have to be honest with you, Jake. Adopting you would mean a court battle with your natural parents. We dont have the means to hire a lawyer and jump through the legal hoops to get custody. Im quite sure your father would fight for you."
"But what if I want it? Brian told the judge today that he didnt ever want to see his sister again, and she agreed."
Just then, Brian entered the kitchen and announced, "Im hungry. What smells so good?"
Brian playfully wrapped his arms around Jakes waist and hugged him from behind.
"Hi, son. What were you doing?"
"Masturbating," he answered simply.
Matt threw back his head and roared. "You cleaned up after yourself, I hope."
"Of course, Big Bad Dad."
"You mean..." Jake was speechless.
Matt shrugged purposely to add to Jakes discomfort. "He was choking the chicken," Matt said as matter-of-factly as he could.
"Whacking off," Brian added.
"The British call it wanking," Matt commented.
"Beat your meat."
"Spank the frank."
Jake squealed with laughter at Matts slang term. Brian grabbed his crotch.
"Jakes got a boner! Jakes got a boner!"
"Ok, Brian, take it easy," Matt laughed as he told Brian to stop.
Tommy appeared in the door. "Whats going on in here? What are you guys laughing about?"
"Something we dont need to discuss yet," Matt told him.
"Jerking off," Jake told him.
"What?" Tommy asked.
"Never mind, and set the table."
They rented a bunch of movies on Saturday. Matt rented movies from The Movie Fan, which was a locally owned video store on Sauk Trail just over the border in Richton Park. The store occupied a former A&P grocery store. Matt preferred the store for several reasons. The rental fees were lower than the big chains. Matt wanted to support local businesses rather than the Blockbusters and Family Videos of the world. This was sort of an odd contradiction since Matt himself managed a chain bookstore. Finally, they all liked Dave, the owner. Dave stocked the store with gay-themed movies, foreign films and offbeat, independent films. Not that he didnt have bestsellers and new releases he certainly had those, too. Its just that he didnt carry fifty copies of the latest Steven Segal kickboxing epic. Dave was fun to talk to, he had excellent recommendations, and he was often right.
Best of all, The Movie Fan was closed on Easter Sunday, which meant that they had an extra day of rental.
Tim picked out Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell.
"The Jesus-was-a-hippie flicks," Matt teased him.
"Well," Tim did his best Southern Baptist accent; "we gotta get religion in them heathens someways."
Saturday was rainy and unseasonably cool, a perfect day to watch videos together. Tim pushed the coffee table aside and spread a blanket on the floor in front of the TV. There the five males sprawled on each other like a litter of puppies. Prints found his way into the pile as well. The cat ended up on Tims chest, rhythmically kneading his paws and purring.
They paused the movies for bathroom breaks, and to make more popcorn. The boys had lots of questions for the two adults. Just before dinner, Matt boiled two dozen eggs to dye later that evening.
After they ate dinner, they cleared the table. Tim covered the dining room table with newspaper, while Matt filled bowls with hot water. Into each bowl, he put a tablespoon of vinegar. He handed the liquid food coloring to Jake. They all watched as he added several drops to each bowl. In one bowl he combined red and blue to create purple.
There was a knock at the kitchen door, and Tommy ran to answer it. Mike and Leah smilingly appeared. Mike carried a small Easter basket.
"I brought this for you," Mike addressed the boys. "I figured you could share it."
"Thats so sweet, Mike," Matt said to him. He hugged the neighbor boy.
"Are you coloring eggs?" Mike asked. "Ive never done it before."
"Have yourself a seat," Tim invited. He handed the boy two eggs.
"Smells like youre canning pickles in here," Leah commented with a smile.
"What are you doing, Jake?" Mike asked.
"Making orange," he answered as he added several drops of red to the yellow that was already swirling in the bowl of hot water.
"Its a metaphor for your family, isnt it?" Leah said quietly.
"Whats a metaphor?" Tommy asked.
"Its a comparison," Brian told him shortly.
Matt creased his forehead. "What do you mean?" He addressed his question to Leah.
"The blending of two separate colors to create a third color. You have taken five separate lives and blended them into one family."
All the males in the room pondered her comment in silence for a moment. Finally, Matt responded. "You are right. Thats a beautiful way to think about it." He took her in his arms and gave her an affectionate kiss.
"And the eggs have meaning, too," Tim added. "They represent new life. Thats why we color them at Easter. They represent the Resurrection and the rebirth of spring." Matt smiled at him in love and pride. "Well, thats what I learned in CCD," he added with a shrug.
"Eggs play an important part of the Seder ceremony, too," Mike added. "Ive been learning about it in Hebrew school."
"How is Hebrew school going?" Matt asked with genuine interest.
"Its interesting, but hard. I hope I can make my Bar Mitzvah next year. Ill be a little older than usual, but Ive got a lot of catching up to do."
"We have decided that Mike will come to live with me full-time starting in June when school gets out. Hell start at Rich East in the fall." Leah added.
Brian hooted, jumped out of his chair, ran around the table to hug Mike. He bumped the table as he did and some of the bowls sloshed their contents onto the newspaper.
"Be careful, Brian!" Tim admonished.
Matt slipped an arm around Tims waist. "Its OK, Tim. No major damage done. Besides, the designs of the colors look kinda pretty on the newspaper."
Just then, Prints jumped up on the table, stepped in some of the colored puddles of water, and then demonstrated how he had gotten his name by leaving multicolored tracks on the newspaper. They laughed at his antics.
Easter is the celebration of new life and resurrection and the survival of yet another winter. Some family members had shown different colors that winter. Mike had demonstrated his green jealousy at Jakes attention to Brian, Matt his red rage toward Brians actions and toward Marty, and Jakes confusion about his feelings toward Brian had manifested itself as the blues.
Most families are bound only by red of blood and genetics. But, this family celebrated all the colors of the spectrum. It encompassed different ages, different needs and requirements, different levels of maturity, physical maturation and spiritual growth. But, it was working because the white light of unconditional love surrounded this rainbow family.
Ultimately, love makes a family.
Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed it. As always, your comments and suggestions are welcome. I read and respond to all email (even if it takes a few days) Just click on one of the links below. And don't forget to check out my website (Chapters are always posted there earlier than here) and my other story here on Nifty, Pocketful of Stars, in the Young Friends section.
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