Detective Stans seemed to be a nice young guy, and he and Matt made small talk about life in a university town on the way down to the police station. The day was cool and windy. There wasn't much traffic on the road, but a lot of students were walking around campus right then, seemingly without a care in the world.
Sometimes, Matt thought to himself, it's just you against the harsh realities of life--particularly when you're in the back of a unmarked police car on the way to answer questions about a murder you know nothing about.
Matt found himself wondering if Mike had gotten his voicemail message to call their dad and to let the wrestling coach know he wasn't going to make practice today. Had he asked Mike to pick up a quart of milk for breakfast tomorrow morning or not? His mind flashed on a thousand disparate subjects on that ride downtown.
Once inside the station, Stans took Matt to the front desk to sign him in. Jeff Miller, a young attorney who was waiting for them after being contacted by Mr. Broman, introduced himself as Matt's lawyer, and asked Detective Stans for a room to confer with Matt before questioning began.
"Fill me in on what's going on," Miller said once they were situated and alone.
"I'll make it short and sweet," Matt said. "A student named Jason Stelling has been murdered. I met this guy twice, once at my adopted brother Mike's parents' funeral, and once recently here in town at Houlihan's. Jason was Mike's lover in high school, and was threatening to out him here on campus if Mike didn't resume his relationship with him. Without Mike's knowledge, I went to meet Jason one night at Houlihan's when he was expecting Mike to meet him, and told him that I would break every bone in his body if he hurt Mike by outing him. That's probably why the cops want to question me. I also dumped a pitcher of ice water in Jason's lap before I left, just to make my point, so plenty of people saw us arguing.
"You also need to know," Mike continued, "that Jason was a drug addict, on heroin, I believe. Mike saw tracks on Jason's arms during one conversation he had with him."
"Anything else I should know?"
"Yes." Matt looked Miller in the eye. "Mike and I are not only brothers, we're lovers and domestic partners."
"I'm glad you're telling me everything, Matt. It makes it just that much easier to stop this before it goes anywhere. Did you have anything to do with the murder?"
"What about Mike?"
"No! I'd stake my life on it. It's just not in his character. He's not a violent person."
"OK, I think I've got the picture," Miller said, and went to get the detective.
Stans came in with some cans of pop for Matt and his attorney, and sat down across the table from them.
"Matt, do you or your attorney have any objection to videotaping this interview?" he asked.
Matt and Jeff Miller looked at each other, and Jeff said, "No problem."
Stans turned on a camera sitting in its holder on the table, identified himself for the record, and asked Matt and Jeff Miller to identify themselves. Matt also stated for the record that he agreed to the videotaping, and the questions began.
"Did you know Jason Stelling?" Stans asked.
"In what connection?"
"I first met him last year at the funeral of my adopted brother Mike's parents. He came to the wake. The next and last time I saw him was about two weeks ago at Houlihan's."
"Did you talk to him at Houlihan's?"
"What did you talk about?"
"We talked about Jason's threat to out Mike on campus for being gay."
"What did you say?"
Mike looked at Jeff inquiringly, and he nodded "yes."
"I told him that if he hurt Mike by outing him, that I would break every bone in his body."
"No, sir, I never saw Jason again."
"Anything else happen at Houlihan's?"
"I dumped a pitcher of ice water in his lap before I left. That was it."
"Where were you at 5 o'clock yesterday afternoon?" Stans asked.
"I was on a bus with 25 wrestlers coming back from Werther College after a meet."
"We're going to confirm that, you know."
"I would hope so."
"So you're telling me that you didn't murder Jason Stelling."
"Do you know who did?"
Stans looked down at his notes.
"I understand that your family is quite wealthy."
"So you have some money to throw around?"
"No, not really. You would have to know my father to understand that he is, well, tight when it comes to handing out money, particularly to us kids. He thinks people should work for their money to the extent they are able. If I weren't on a wrestling scholarship here, I'd be working part time on campus to pay some of my expenses. I have to talk fast for anything I get, believe me."
"What about your brother, Mike?"
"Same thing, except that Mike is rich in his own right because his natural family was killed in a plane crash and he inherited. But our father controls his money as well for three more years, so he's in the same boat I am. He has a swimming scholarship, or he'd be working, too."
"Both of you have bank accounts here?"
"Yes, at University National."
Stans made a note.
"Are you gay?"
"Were you afraid Jason Stelling was going to out you, too?"
"I was prepared for it, yes. I don't lie about being gay when I'm asked, but I don't flaunt it, either. I've pretty much concluded that at some point, it will come out, and we have to live with what we are. I'm not ashamed, and I'm not prepared to be victimized because I'm a homosexual, I can tell you that.
"Did you hire someone to kill Jason Stelling?"
"Do you use illegal drugs of any kind?"
"No! I hate them."
Stans paused and looked over his notes.
"Do you have anything else to tell me?" Stans asked.
"Thank you, Matt," Stans said. "I think that's all the questions we have for the moment. And thank you, Counselor. We'll be in touch if we have more questions." He shut off the video camera.
The three stood up, shook hands, and Matt and Jeff left the building.
"Good job, Matt," Miller said. "You answered everything he asked, and didn't volunteer any information that could be interpreted the wrong way. Text book technique!"
"Thanks. It must be all those Law and Order reruns I've watched. But it's nerve-wracking to be questioned, even when you're innocent!"
"Yeah, that's for sure. Listen, do you need a ride home?"
"I'd appreciate it, Jeff."
Ten minutes later Matt was running up the coach house steps.
He burst in the door of the apartment prepared to tell Mike what had happened at the police station when a cloud of marijuana smoke hit him in the face. In an instant rage, he turned the corner from the hall to the living room, all ready to berate the hell out of Mike for smoking dope. Mike sitting on the couch in blood-stained boxers, holding a bloody hand towel to his head, and sporting a big bruise on his right cheek and his right rib cage. His right shin was swelling into a huge knot. He was smoking a huge, fat doobie.
Matt stood there aghast, his rage gone in a flash.
"Mike! What the hell happened to you?"
"I got jumped on the way home after swimming practice by three guys wearing ski masks and carrying baseball bats. They worked me over pretty good. I don't think they like fags."
"Fucking son of a bitch!!" Matt sat down beside Mike on the couch, and took the doobie and ground it out in a saucer. "Let me look at you, buddy."
The head wound was small, and although there was copious blood, it was beginning to congeal. Matt gently touched Mike's rib cage, and was rewarded with a groan. The face bruise was just that, a bruise, but the swelling on Mike's right shin was about the size of a grapefruit.
"Mike, I'm worried about the ribs. One could be broken. And the leg."
"Yeah? I'm not hurting too much now. That's why I smoked pot. Don't be mad at me."
"We can talk about that later. I think the Student Health clinic can handle this. I'm going to call the police and have them meet us there."
"I don't want to get the police involved."
"We have to!" The cumulative anger and frustration of being questioned about Jason's murder, and now what had happened to Mike, and the fact Mike had smoked the grass, boiled over.
"THIS SHIT WILL CEASE!!!" Matt shouted as he stood up and punched his fist through the wall. Plaster rained down on the couch. Matt's knuckles began to bleed. Mike looked up at him in stoned surprise.
"We are NOT going to be victims of this anti-gay shit, Mike. That is the bottom line. I want this on the police record because, guess what, as of right now, I'm a gay activist! You and I are not living our lives as victims, and the motherfuckers who think they have the power to make us victims are gonna get hurt, I promise you!"
Matt went to the telephone and called the police station, asking for Detective Stans.
"Stans. . ." a voice prompted.
"Detective Stans, this is Matt Broman. I'm glad I caught you. I need your help. Somebody beat up my brother Mike pretty bad on the way home from swim practice late this afternoon, and I'm getting ready to take him over to Student Health. Is there any chance you could meet us there and take a report? I think this battery was probably a hate crime, and we need to get it on the record."
Matt listened, and then said, "Thanks. We'll see you there in about 15 minutes."
"Mike, come on, let me help you get dressed."
Matt helped Mike up and took him into the bedroom.
"I want you to put on the same clothes you were wearing when those assholes got you," Matt said.
"OK, the T-shirt and Levi's are in the laundry hamper. But they're all bloody."
"The detective and the student doc need to see exactly how you looked when those pricks left you," Matt explained. Mike dressed slowly with Matt's help. Helping Mike on with his jacket, Matt grabbed his Polaroid camera and cell phone as they went out the door and down to the truck.
Matt and Mike walked in the door of the clinic just as Detective Stans pulled up in his unmarked car. A nurse at the reception desk took one look at Mike and motioned them through the waiting room doors and into an examination room. The doctor, a tall, thin blonde woman about 35 years old, came into the exam room, as did Detective Stans.
"Doctor, uh, Lucas," Matt said, reading her name tag, "I'm Matt Broman, this is my brother Mike, and this is Detective Stans of the University City Police Department. My brother was beaten up on the way home from swimming practice about an hour ago, and I want to make sure that everything is OK with him. He has a head wound, a bruise on his cheek, bruised or possibly cracked ribs, and what looks to be a hematoma on his right shin. Secondly, we want to file a report of the incident with Detective Stans, including your documentation of his injuries."
"Mary Lucas," the doctor introduced herself. "Doris," she instructed the nurse, "get a gown for Mike. Mike, are you going to need help getting undressed?"
"Yes, probably," Mike said.
"Gentlemen, if you will have a seat in the waiting room, we'll bring you in when we're finished with the exam," the doctor said.
Matt and Detective Stans went to the waiting room. Matt noticed that Detective Stans had a Polaroid camera with him, the same model as Matt's.
"Great minds. . ." Matt said, motioning at the detective's camera with his own.
"Yeah," Stans said. "Do you know anything more than you told me?"
"No. I relayed everything Mike said to me. I just can't believe there were no witnesses."
"I don't like this very much. This may or may not be a hate crime, but I'm wondering at this point just how random it is. They could have killed Mike, you know. Maybe they were scared off. Anyway, I'm hoping this isn't a pattern."
"If it is, it's going to stop! I'm making an appointment with the chief of campus police tomorrow about campus security. That's why I wanted you to come down here and document Mike's injuries for the record. If I don't get any satisfaction from the chief, I'll go to the chancellor of the university."
"Do you think you can get them to take this seriously?" the detective looked at him quizzically.
"They will, believe me! In addition to the hate crime issue, a big, fat lawsuit against the university is a pretty good bargaining chip, too. Failing all else, you should get prepared to talk to the national media about the incident by tomorrow night, if that's what it takes. Because the media will be here in town, and they'll be calling you."
The detective grinned. "You don't fool around, do you, kid? I like that!"
Dr. Lucas came out and sat down with them about half an hour later.
"Mike is going to be fine, and you can take him home. He didn't lose consciousness during the beating he sustained, so I'm not too concerned about a concussion. He doesn't need stitches in his scalp. I shaved some of his scalp hair so I could use a butterfly bandage on it. There are no broken ribs. His rib cage is badly bruised on the right side, so I wrapped it, but he can take the wrapping off any time he wants. The leg isn't broken. I've put ice on it, and I want you to keep icing it for at least 36 hours, 2 hours on and 1 hour off. From then on, ice it whenever it's convenient. He should keep the leg elevated as much as he can, and avoid walking on it for a few days. His face will be fine, but if you have a steak at home, put that on it for a few hours to reduce the bruise. It may or may not help, but try it. Here is a prescription for Tylenol 3, and some samples to get you through the first few days. If he needs anything stronger, call me."
"Doctor, can we get some pictures now?" Stans asked.
"Yes. If you need anything unwrapped so the wounds can be seen, just ask Doris. I've dictated Mike's medical record, and it will be transcribed first thing in the morning and available to you, Detective."
"I'd like three copies as well, Doctor," Matt said. "One for the campus police and one for the chancellor, and one for Mike's records. Is that possible?"
"Of course. I'll go and make a note to that effect right now."
"Mike is on the swim team. How soon can he get back to practice," Matt asked.
"Let's play it by ear," Dr. Lucas said. "The ribs are going to send him a message if he's overdoing it. But I don't want him thrashing around, even in water, with that hematoma for at least a week or so. Let's just say I want to check him out before he goes back to practice."
"Yes, m'am. Got it." Matt responded.
Matt and Detective Stans went back into Mike's room, and took as nearly identical pictures of Mike's wounds as they could. At Matt's request, Stans signed and dated the backs of the pictures that Matt took so there could be no doubt of their authenticity.
Matt got Mike dressed, and the nurse brought a wheel chair. Matt and Stans wheeled Mike out to the truck, and they helped him in and shut the door.
"Call me tomorrow and let me know how you do with the campus chief, will you?" Stans asked. "Maybe I can be of some help."
"I will," Matt said. "And thanks very much for coming down here. I really appreciate it."
"That's OK. I have a lot of thinking to do about whether Mike's beating is linked some way to the Stelling murder. We're going to want to talk to Mike at some point about Stelling, by the way."
"I'll tell him. My dad will probably want to have Jeff Miller there for Mike, so just let me know when."
"I will. Take care of your brother, now, and I'll talk to you tomorrow."
Matt drove home slowly, trying to miss the bumps in the road so as not to jostle Mike too much. They reached the coach house, and Matt helped Mike up the stairs.
"Mike, do you want to take a shower or a bath, or just skip it tonight?"
"I'd like to take a shower--but only if you come in with me," Mike said with as much of a leer as he could manage with his bruised, swollen face.
"I can tell you're not too bad off," Matt laughed. "I'm there, bro!"
He walked Mike into the bathroom and began to strip Mike's clothes off as gently as he could. Then he stripped off his own clothes, turned on the water, and adjusted it to luke warm. He helped Mike over the threshold into the shower, stepped in himself, and shut the glass door. Once inside he put his arms around Mike and, chest to chest, body to body, held him tenderly and kissed his face repeatedly as the spray wet them down. They stood there like that for a good 5 minutes without moving, except they both got erections. Then, fearful that Mike's hematoma might swell more from standing too long, Matt took soap and a wash cloth and washed every inch of his lover's body with great care.
Finished, they stepped out of the shower, and Matt dried Mike off, and then himself. He put toothpaste on Mike's toothbrush for him, and had him brush his teeth. Then he gave Mike three of the Tylenols, and took him into their bedroom and turned down the bed.
"Mike, if you want me to, I can sleep in the other bedroom so I don't accidentally roll on you or bump you in the night."
"Well, why don't you switch to the left side of the bed instead of the right side until you heal. Then I'll be sleeping on your good side.
"Now, let's get that leg up on a pillow, and I'll get some fresh ice for the ice pack."
"While I'm going in that direction, what do you want for dinner?" Matt asked. "You know, I have to defrost a steak for your face anyway. Why don't we put it on your face for an hour or so, and then I'll cook it for you. Is that a brilliant use of precious resources, or what?"
"You nimrod!" Mike laughed painfully, holding his ribs. "No wonder America's great! Dad would be proud!"
Matt roared, and went to defrost the steak. When it was limber, he took it to Mike and gently laid it over his bruised eye and cheek.
"Mike Broman," Matt observed, "half man, half steak!"
"Thanks, Matt." Mike smiled, and then paused. His expression grew serious. "You know, I love you so much I can't stand it sometimes. Sometimes my chest hurts I feel so much love for you. It scares me."
Matt regarded him solemnly for a minute, very moved, and sat down on the side of the bed.
"Michael, let me tell you some things that by rights I should have been telling you every day we've been together--and now is as good a time as any to start. And please don't interrupt."
Matt took a breath and swallowed. "Give me a minute. I'm not used to this." He composed himself and then continued, his voice breaking a little.
"You are deep in my heart and in my soul, Mike. You're as fundamental to my being as living and breathing. You give me joy and humor and happiness in a world where all those things are in short supply. I don't know what I could ever have done to deserve you for my brother and my partner and my lover and my friend. Everything I know about 'hanging in' when the person you love is hurting or in trouble, I learned from you. Every day that goes by, I am a better person because of you. You are my ideal. I thank God for you every day of my life, starting the minute I wake up in the morning. I'd write love poems to you all day long if I had the talent, but I don't. I respect you for your toughness and your tenderness and your honesty, starting with the standards you impose on yourself. I'm infatuated with your mind and your body. You know, I can remember what you were wearing last year the first time I ever saw you--a cutoff tank top and those gray gym shorts that showed off your cute little butt and your package--and I wasn't even into guys back then, dude. You have been my partner in the most incredible sex I have ever had, or ever could have.
"I hate it that you're hurting now, but taking care of you is a gift for me because I can show you, just a little, how much having you in my life means to me."
They stared at each other in silence, and Mike put a hand over his one uncovered eye so Matt wouldn't see his tears. Matt bent down, picked up Mike's free hand from the bed, kissed the back of it, and then got up and walked out of the bedroom to straighten up the apartment.
In between cleaning the apartment, cooking dinner for Mike and himself, and cutting up Mike's food for him, Matt called their mom and dad and filled them in on the beating that Mike had just taken, the murder of Jason Stelling, and the police questioning. The elder Bromans were very upset about Mike, and insisted on talking to him, so Matt took him the phone. When they finished, Matt told his dad about his plans to see the chief of security, and if necessary, the chancellor, concerning the issue of campus security. Mr. Broman thought that raising the issue was entirely appropriate, and asked Matt to let him know if he could be of any help along the way in dealing with the problem. He also said that Jeff Miller would be available if and when Mike was questioned at the police station. Matt told his parents to smack around Jeff and Martha for him because they got away with far too much without their older brothers around. He thanked them for all their concern, and told them he loved them. They promised to call Mike in a few days to see how he was doing, and hung up.
Later that night, after feeding Mike some more Tylenol and replenishing the ice pack on his leg, Matt eased into bed. Due to the condition of his ribs, Mike could only sleep on his back.
"Mike, are you OK?"
"Yeah, I'm gonna be all right."
"Do you want me to get you off so you can sleep better? I'm a full-service boyfriend, you know."
"No, I'm hurting too much now to enjoy it, but thanks. And quit making me laugh. It hurts."
"Sorry. But you wake me up if you need anything, all right?"
"Well, this sounds stupid, but would you just hold my hand?"
"Yeppers, I'd like to."
"Mike, can I ask you something?"
"Are you still taking your Paxil?"
"No, I stopped when we came back to school."
"I'm not raggin' on ya, but could I ask why?"
"I don't think I need it anymore."
"Do you remember the little conversation you had with me after the Rick Scott thing, when I would hardly leave the house without you?"
"You told me that I needed to talk to someone about what had happened to me, and you did me a huge favor, Mike. I really wasn't functioning very well, and you helped me get back on track. I might not be back in school today if you hadn't, well, pressured me in a very nice way to talk to a counselor. Now the shoe is on the other foot. I don't think you're over your family's death by a long shot, and this incident today isn't going to help. Now I want you to talk to someone, and to start taking your medication again."
"Hey, bud, I'm not seeing it, myself. But I don't want to be a churl about it, so if you want me to, I will."
"Outstanding! I think you'll be glad you did. By the way, that word, 'churl.' Very nice. You're just too literate for a jock, my man! Where'd you pick that up?"
"Well, I'm an innocent young college boy sitting at the feet of the wordmaster--that being yourself, of course--every time I'm in your company. I must have picked it up by osmosis or some such process," Mike said.
"We do what we can," Matt chortled. "Sometimes it's an uphill battle."
"You're an uphill battle, you spaz! What a trip you are! But I love you anyway!"
"I want to apologize to you for losing my temper and punching the wall this afternoon. That was so stupid and uncalled for. I'm ashamed. I'll work harder on my temper, I promise. That's not the kind of person I want to be."
"I have to say I came down real fast."
"Well, that's not the way to handle things. I do want to talk to you about the pot sometime, though, but not tonight. Maybe later, 'K?"
"OK, then, goodnight." Matt kissed the side of Mike's face tenderly. "Thanks for putting up with me, dude. I thank God you're all right and you're here beside me in this bed tonight."
"Love you more, more, more."
Mike just groaned in mock frustration, and they slept hand in hand.
* * *
The next morning Matt got up later than usual, about 8 a.m. Mike was hurting and little cranky. Matt saw to it that Mike got to the bathroom, brushed his teeth, and took his Paxil and Tylenol. Then he put him back into bed, put fresh ice on his leg, and fixed him his favorite breakfast--eggs over easy, home fries, whole wheat toast with apple butter, crisp thick bacon, and orange juice.
After showering, Matt put on a sharp, dark blue suit with a blue and white striped shirt, a red print tie, and shined black shoes.
"Damn, studly, you look like a model!" Mike said. "Kickass ensemble, you know! I'd like to pinch your tight little ass just to see you jump around a little and strike some poses."
Matt smiled and wiggled his butt. "Oooooo! Pinching. Now I'll be thinking about that all day!"
"Who's first on your schedule?"
"First, I'm going to the clinic and pick up your records, then to the campus security office to see the chief. If I don't get any satisfaction there, I'm going to the chancellor's office."
"Things are going to change, I promise you that. Now, do you need anything before I leave?"
"No, I'm fine."
"OK, here's the TV remote. There's a glass of water by the bed. Here's the phone, and I have my cell phone. You call me if you need anything, and I'll be here! All right?"
"I mean it, Mike."
"All right, already! I'll call!"
"That's what I wanted to hear. I gotta book! Stay off your leg! Love ya, bud!" Matt leaned down and kissed Mike on the nose.
"Love ya back!"
The copies of Mike's medical records were ready at student health, as Dr. Lucas had promised. Matt picked them up and presented himself at the campus security office promptly at 9:15 a.m.
When he gave the receptionist his name and told her he wanted an appointment with the security chief that morning, she said that the chief was booked solid all day. Matt responded that either the chief could work him into his busy schedule that morning, or he would take up his business with the chancellor's office. The receptionist excused herself and went into the door marked "Chief of Campus Security."
She returned in a minute, and said that the chief would see him in 15 minutes. Matt took a seat and began leafing through some magazines. When he had not been called within 30 minutes, he stood and put on his trench coat. The receptionist immediately picked up her phone and reminded someone that Matt was waiting. He was ushered into the office of a man whose expression said he didn't like being strong-armed for an appointment by a mere student, and that he was feeling very put-upon.
"Matthew Broman, sir. I'm a sophomore student here at this university. Thank you for seeing me."
The man behind the desk didn't introduce himself, offer his hand, or for that matter, ask Matt to sit down.
"What is it?" the man barked.
"Well, first of all, the courtesy of being asked to sit down," Matt shot back.
"Sit, then. What do you want?"
"Your name, sir, is. . .?"
"Cramer. What do you want?"
"I want to report a battery which occurred on campus between 5:30 and 6:00 p.m. last night. A report is already on file with the University City Police Department, but I want it to be on file here, as well. Secondly, as a result of this battery, which may have been a hate crime, I am requesting an immediate review of security plans and manpower allocations for this campus with a view to increasing the protection accorded students here."
"First of all, what do the University City Police have to do with a crime on this campus? How did they get involved?"
"I called them to come to the clinic where my brother, the victim, was treated."
"On whose authority. . ."
"Chief Cramer, let's get something straight. I am not some yokel who's going to be intimidated by bullshit about who has what jurisdiction. I know that the City police have full primary jurisdiction on this campus, and that your force has concurrent jurisdiction. All I want to know now is whether you are interested in receiving a copy of the reports already available so that you can investigate, and secondly, whether you will entertain a review of the security provisions on campus which allowed this crime to occur."
Cramer's face reddened. "You punk! Get the hell out of my office!"
"With pleasure. You may want to take a picture of this office to remember it by, because I don't think you're going to be sitting in it much longer."
Matt stood, picked up his coat and files, and exited while Cramer did a slow burn behind his desk.
Matt then went immediately to the chancellor's office in the administration building, and approached the chancellor's secretary.
"Good morning, m'am. My name is Matthew Broman, and I'm a sophomore student here at the university. It's very important that I talk with the chancellor this morning about a battery which was perpetrated on my brother, also a sophomore student here, early last evening on campus."
"Do you have an appointment, Mr. Broman?"
"No, I don't. But I'm hoping that the chancellor can work me in on an emergency basis, given the gravity of this crime and the campus security issues it raises. There are also some liability issues that the university may want to address early on."
The secretary's eyes widened slightly when she heard the word, "liability," and she asked Matt to be seated and offered him coffee. Then she went into the chancellor's office.
She emerged a minute later, and asked, "Mr. Broman, would you be able to return at 11 o'clock? The chancellor would very much like to talk with you."
"Certainly. Thank the chancellor for me, and thank you for your help and courtesy. I'll be here at 11 o'clock."
Matt returned to the administration building a few minutes before 11 o'clock, and was ushered into the chancellor's office immediately.
A tall, gray-haired man arose and walked slowly around from behind his desk, extending his hand, as Matt entered. He had sad eyes in an animated, intelligent face.
"Don Edwards, Mr. Broman. Please come in and sit down. May I call you Matt?" He sat down beside Matt in front of the huge desk.
"Yes, sir, and thank you for seeing me on such short notice. I wouldn't have been so insistent except I think there is a violence problem developing on campus that has recently touched me, personally, through my adoptive brother. He's a sophomore student here as well."
"Tell me what's going on."
"My brother, Mike, who is here on a swimming scholarship, by the way, was on his way home from swim practice last night between 5:30 and 6 o'clock when he was set upon by three guys in ski masks and baseball bats, and badly beaten. It wasn't a robbery--they didn't take his money or watch. I have a copy of his medical exam from the student clinic here for you. Detective Ray Stans at the University City P.D. took a police report, and that report can be obtained from him.
"This is particularly serious because I think it was a hate crime directed at my brother because he is gay. I need to tell you that he and I are domestic partners as well as adoptive brothers, so I feel strongly about asking the university for a review of campus security plans and deployments. I'm not what you'd call a social activist, but I'm energized on this issue, for sure. I'm asking for your help so that this kind of incident won't happen again."
"Matt, I'm very sorry and ashamed that something like this could happen on our campus," Dr. Edwards said. "Have you talked to campus security at all?"
"Yes, I was over there before I came to your office earlier this morning. Chief Cramer threw me out of his office, as a matter of fact. He wanted to discuss why the City police were involved in taking the report rather than the campus police, and I didn't see that as the real issue. We had a difference of opinion."
"Just for my information, was there a special reason Detective, uh, was it Stans, took a report?"
"Yes. I know the detective personally. He's looking into whether there is a pattern of crimes against gays right now, and I thought this incident might provide some additional information for him. And, to be honest, since I knew I was going to ask for a top to bottom review of the security apparatus, I wanted an independent look taken at this case."
"Not a problem. Let me make a quick call."
Edwards strode to his desk, hit the intercom button, and asked his secretary to place a call to the vice chancellor. Two minutes later, the phone buzzed.
"Vice Chancellor Taylor on Line 3," his secretary said.
Edwards picked up the phone.
"Jerry, I'm sitting with Matt Broman, a sophomore student on our campus, who is reporting a battery on his brother, also a student here. Last night the young man was on the way home from swim practice and was set upon. Would you have time to contact Chief Cramer and set up a meeting with me here in my office this afternoon? I'd like Cramer to bring a copy of his report on the incident,"--Edwards winked at Mike--"copies of his budget, and regular campus deployment plans for security officers as well."
Hmmmm, it's true, Matt smiled to himself. Shit does roll downhill.
"Good, 3 o'clock would be fine. See you both then." Edwards hung up the telephone, and came back to sit down beside Matt.
"Would you be able to attend this meeting at 3 o'clock, Matt? I'm also going to invite the president of the student senate so you and she can give us some input from the student point of view."
"Yes, sir. I would be glad to do that."
"Good. I'll look forward to seeing you at 3:00, then." The chancellor stood and offered his hand.
"I want to tell you how much I appreciate your listening to me. I know there will be some grumbling in the ranks before we're done," Matt said, "but I'm really really concerned about this issue."
The chancellor smiled.
"Sometimes, Matt, we forget who our customers are. Our customers are people like you and your brother. We need to pay attention, don't you think?"
"Yes, sir. Forgive me for saying that yours isn't a typical attitude for an administrator. See you at 3:00."
Matt walked out feeling that the security issue would indeed get a thorough review. He looked at his watch. Almost noon. He pulled out his cell phone and called Mike.
"It's me," he said when Mike answered. "Do you want me to bring you something for lunch?"
"Yeah, that would be great," Mike said. "Bring me a gyros."
"A gyros! You're a gyros, you dufus. Anyway, I obey your every command!"
"Then get home, you slacker. I'm lonesome, and I miss you! TV really is a vast wasteland."
"On my way, and with good news!"
Matt stopped and picked up a gyros and fries for Matt, and then drove home still feeling very up about the meeting with the chancellor. Mike ate quickly while Matt filled him in on his two meetings.
"You're such a charmer, Matt. No wonder the chancellor couldn't resist you."
"How do you explain the chief, then?"
"His wife didn't give him any last night, how should I know?"
"Speaking of 'any'..." Matt lifted the sheet and saw that Mike was still naked. "I believe I see some 'any' down there under this sheet." He stood up and took off his clothes, neatly hanging up his suit for the 3 o'clock meeting, and slipped into bed with Mike.
"You won't hurt me, will ya, mister?" Mike simulated a whine.
"No intentional hurting. But I am going to suck your dick until you implode."
"Jeez, Matt, that's really romantic!" Mike complained.
"Can I help it if you've made me into a horny cum slut? I used to be such a sweet, pure heterosexual boy. I didn't have a clue how many functions the penis had until you demonstrated the entire menu for me the first five minutes we were intimate. You cast a spell and corrupted me."
"Shoot! You were a quick study, for sure!"
"I learned from the master," Matt said, flicking Mike's left nipple with his tongue several times. The nipple engorged.
"Earth to Matt. You're giving me wood. Don't start what you can't finish!" Mike cautioned.
" 'K, I'm on it. Literally."
Matt pushed himself down more toward the foot of the bed, and pulled the sheet over his head. Being careful not to lean on Mike's chest or legs, he took the head of Mike's penis in his mouth and began circling it with his tongue. Just seconds later, he tasted the first drop of his lover's sweet pre-cum, and heard Mike groan.
Pulling off momentarily, Matt said, "Bro, you are one glorious horny dawg. Tastes great, more filling!" After thoroughly licking Mike's balls and as much between his legs as he could reach without moving him, he went back to his labor of love, swallowing Mike's stick whole and squeezing it in his throat. Eventually, bobbing his head slowly and deliberately, he began patiently to coax out the maximum in sexual pleasure for Mike. By now Mike was groaning loudly and continuously as Matt skillfully brought him near to climax and then eased off, again and again. After 15 minutes, Mike begged to be allowed to come, and Matt escalated his efforts.
"I'm close, man. . . I'm sooo close. . .Get ready, here it comes. . .YES--AHHHHHHHHHHH."
Matt drew back so that just the head of Mike's penis was in his mouth, and savored his lover's essence as he received seven huge spurts of cum, coursing onto his tongue as he swallowed as fast as he could. Matt tongued the last juices off of Mike's dick, and came up for air.
Mike just lay there with his eyes closed, as if he were dead. When he did open his eyes, they were just slits.
"I know you don't like me to misuse the Lord's name," Mike said, "but, OH MY GOD! You keep surprising me, dude," he said weakly.
"See," Matt said, kissing him gently, "Surprise keeps love fresh. And love is better in the afternoon!"
"If I ever doubt it, make yourself available, will ya? You are incredible!"
"Well, you inspire me. You were Cum Central today, dude."
"Don't you wanna get off, too?" Mike asked.
"Later. For now, I just want to lie here next to you."
Matt moved over as close to Mike as he could without hurting him, and they dozed together for about 15 minutes.
Matt woke up, and got Mike some more ice for his leg, and some Tylenol. Then he refilled Mike's water glass, and lay down with him again until he had to dress for his 3 o'clock meeting.
When he was ready to go, he kissed Mike good-bye, and said, "I should be back about 4 o'clock. I want to give you a shower before I head out to wrestling practice, if that's OK. What do you want for supper, by the way?"
"You know what I have a taste for?" Mike asked.
"Other than me, what?"
Mike smiled. "I'd really like some of that blackened catfish and cajun rice from Houlihan's. Would it be too much trouble to stop and get some on your way home?"
"No prob. Why don't you call there about twenty of 4 and put in two take-out orders?"
"Do you need to go to the bathroom?" Matt asked.
"No, I'm good. You better get outta here, though, before I jump your bod! I love ya!"
"Love ya back, buddy, bigtime." Matt kissed him again and left, clattering down the stairs to the truck.
Mike was so relaxed that the bed felt as if he were floating on a calm sea, and he slept soundly for an hour. At 3:40 he called Houlihan's and placed their take-out orders, and then waited for Matt.
Matt came in about 4:15, and the aroma of blackened catfish wafted through the apartment.
"Hey, Mike, when do you wanna eat?"
"When are you gonna eat?"
"I'll wait for you, then. Why don't you put it in the oven on low to keep it warm?"
"Now, tell me what happened at the chancellor's office," Mike said.
Matt started his story as he went into the kitchen.
"Good meeting, really. Diane Shanley was there, you know, the president of the student senate. She is very bright, and very much on board on the security issues. I'm really impressed with the chancellor, and the vice chancellor is no slouch, either. Cramer looked like the asshole he is once everybody saw his deployment sheets, and how inadequate campus security really is. I don't think he's gonna be around too long. I picked up on bad vibes between him and the chancellor. By the way, he wasn't able to get the a copy of the police report on your beating from Stans in time for the meeting. Major embarrassment."
Matt came back into the bedroom from the kitchen.
"I suggested to the group that in addition to whatever the university can do to beef up the paid security force, that we also create a student campus patrol. I'm not talking about vigilantes, here, just people who would be willing to devote a couple hours a week to watching what's going on. I also suggested that we have plastic whistles made up for any students who want to wear them around their necks, and that we call it the 'Whistle Me Safe' program. They all seemed to like that idea, except for the chief, of course. Anyway, we're all supposed to meet again in a couple weeks."
"Awesome, dude. What a fertile mind you have!"
"Hmmmm. Speaking of fertile, you're so fertile smelling that I think we better get you into the shower, if you're ready. I should leave for practice in about 15."
"You're just smelling my pheromones, horndog, and that's why you're so happy and horny all the time. Like the young pup you are. But, yeah, let's hit it."
Matt pulled the sheet off of Mike, and helped him up and into the bathroom. The bruise on his face was better, but the swelling on the leg still looked angry. Matt couldn't see Mike's scalp wound, but decided they should leave the butterfly bandage on for another day. His rib cage was the most painful of all when it came to moving around.
Matt stripped, opened the shower door, turned on the water and adjusted it. They climbed in together.
"I could get used to this as a daily routine," Mike said as they held each other.
"Me, too, at least until we got our first public hardon in the gym shower some night when we're ogling each other. That's generally frowned upon."
"Either that, or we'd be the most popular guys in town!"
"Shut up, turn around, and let me wash your back and that beautiful ass of yours. I don't know whether to wash that ass or bite it."
"Nibbling is encouraged; biting, well, maybe not."
Matt finished Mike's back, butt and legs.
" 'K, now turn around and let me get your front."
"You did my front a couple hours ago, thank you, and your technique was great!"
"Just a portent of things to come--no pun intended. Now shut up, I have to work fast, here."
Matt scrubbed him down, taking special care with his rib cage and his bad leg.
"OK, we're done. I'd like to spend the next two hours in here with you, but wrestling calls. Step out, and let me wipe you off."
Matt toweled Mike off gently, gave him a dose of Tylenol, and helped him back to bed.
"Sure, bud, glad to do it. Now, I gotta get dressed and outta here. You sure you don't want to eat before I leave?""
"No, I'll wait for you. Thanks."
Matt dried himself off, put on briefs, Levi's and a T, and his jacket, and after kissing Mike, bounded down the stairs and out.
Mike lay in bed thinking about Matt, what a good person he was to him and to everyone else for that matter, what a generous spirit he had, and yes, how physically beautiful and sexy he was.
I'm a believer, Lord, now that you've shown me some of your best work, Mike reflected to himself.
When Matt got home from practice, they ate and watched a little TV. They decided that since the next day was Saturday, they would get back into their study routine on Sunday.
"You know," Matt said, "some of the guys at practice are still giving me the fish eye. I don't know exactly what to do about that."
"I'll tell you exactly what we're going to do about that," Mike responded. "On Monday, we're going to ask the wrestling coach if you can have two minutes to talk to the team before practice. You're going to put me in a wheelchair, and take me over to the gym, and let them see exactly what hatred can do to human beings. We're going to tell them that our commitments to the school and to our sport are exactly what they have always been, and that we are still members of the human race even though we're gay. We're going to ask them to accept us as their friends and teammates whatever their own orientation may be. And on Tuesday, we're going to talk to the swim team and say the same thing. No more secrets--everything's on the table. Let's face the problem head on. I learned that from you."
"Two days ago, I wouldn't even have considered it. Now, I think you're right. Let's do it."
On Saturday, Matt did some grocery shopping, rented a wheelchair for Mike, and bought plaster mix and fixed the wall he had put his fist through.
On Sunday, he decided to go to early mass at Canterbury Center, feeling he had a lot to be thankful for. Mike wanted to go, too, so they threw the wheelchair in the truck, and Matt wheeled him into church. It felt good to both of them to be there.
That afternoon, as they were talking, Mike said, "You know, Thanksgiving's only about three weeks away. I wanna go home, and I wanna go bad."
"Me, too. There's only one potential problem. It could be bad for your leg for you to sit up for that long a time, and the truck doesn't have a back seat to lie down in."
"What if every hour or so I lean against the door and put my leg in your lap for a few minutes? Between that and icing it down, I should be OK. Especially in three weeks."
"That could work. Good idea. If it's still swollen this bad, though, I'm gonna ask Dad if we can't rent a car. I don't want to take any chances."
Later that afternoon, just to give Mike a change of scenery, Matt took him downstairs, put him in the wheelchair with the bad leg supported straight out in front of him, and wheeled him around the neighborhood. The remnants of colorful foliage from a brilliant fall season still graced the old university town. It was very peaceful, and they enjoyed a great walk.
Later that night, after they were in bed with all their needs except sex taken care of, Mike, still forced to remain on his back, slicked down Matt's big dick with lotion, and jacked him until he shot a foot and a half in the air. He continued to shoot until his chest and abdomen were covered. Matt returned the favor, being very gentle, and after they wiped themselves clean with a hand towel, they kissed and then slept through the night like the dead.
* * *
The wrestling and swimming coaches respectively gave the boys a couple of minutes at the start of practice on Monday and Tuesday, and the two brief meetings went better than either of the guys had expected. They pretty much played it as Mike had suggested on Friday night. Without exception, the wrestlers came up to Matt, and then to Mike, and shook hands with them. Several of them said they appreciated the guts it took to be that honest. There was only one guy on the swim team on Tuesday who seemed to have any reservations about the situation, with the rest of the team members seeming friendly. They said they wanted Mike back at practice and at the meets, and quickly. Even the one holdout became friendlier after Mike's friend Dan Smith had a little talk with him and the guy saw which way sentiments were running.
From then on, Matt noticed that his teammates, trying not to be too obvious what they were doing, casually alternated with one another walking him out to the parking lot to his truck, or across campus with him if he hadn't driven. When Dr. Lucas released Mike for limited swimming practice a couple of weeks later, he experienced the same thing. Nothing was ever said to either one of them, but the boys felt very good about it.
Matt called Detective Stans, and suggested that with Thanksgiving coming up fast, an appointment be set up for Mike to be questioned about Jason Stelling's murder. To his surprise, Stans said that they had two suspects, reputed drug dealers, already in custody, and that they would likely be charged with the murder. Records in Jason's room suggested he had owed them about $100,000 for heroin he was dealing. Mike wouldn't have to undergo questioning after all. The boys high-fived each other over that piece of good news.
The second meeting in the chancellor's office on campus safety took place during the week before Thanksgiving. Chief Cramer was gone, and in his place, a nice and seemingly competent older man named Davis. The committee recommended to the chancellor that contingency funds be used to increase the security force by 15 percent immediately. They also recommended that 15,000 whistles be purchased for Matt's "Whistle Me Safe" program, and that Chief Davis develop and submit standards for training a student auxiliary patrol for campus safety. Matt was jubilant.
The chancellor asked him to remain behind for a minute after the meeting broke up.
"Matt, I want to thank you for stepping up to the plate on this one. It took guts, and some vision." He paused. "My own son was gay. He had a hard time of it growing up, and I didn't do very many things right to make it easier for him. He was one of the few men killed in Operation Desert Storm."
"I'm sorry, Dr. Edwards. I didn't know." No wonder the man's eyes are sad, Matt thought to himself.
"Thank you. I hope you'll stop by from time to time and bring me up to speed on how things are going for you and your brother. Please. I'd like to see you."
"I'll do that, sir." Matt offered his hand. "You are a very special person. You handled this issue perfectly, if I may be so presumptuous, and you're one heck of a fine administrator. You'll probably get tired of seeing me hanging around here."
"I doubt that. Have a great Thanksgiving, you and your family!"
"Thank you, sir, and same to you. See you later."
* * *
The boys had one class each on the Monday morning before Thanksgiving, and then they were free as birds. They packed quickly, loaded the truck, and were on the road by 11 a.m. Mike's leg was looking much better, but they stopped and bought ice for the ice chest before they left town. His ribs still hurt like the devil.
They talked about their classes and sports, and listened to some tunes.
"Matt, I was thinking we should talk to Mom and Dad about, uh, our situation on this trip instead of waiting until Christmas. We're sure coming clean with the rest of the world."
"I've been thinking the same thing. Man, I dread this, though."
"I know. But we owe it to them. And to ourselves. Let's not even think about their reaction at this point. Sometimes people surprise you in a good way when you're expecting the worst."
"Boy, is that the truth. Right again, Ringo!" Matt reached over and put his big hand on Mike's neck, and very gently swayed him back and forth. "Hey, I've got a joke for ya!"
Mike groaned. "Oh, no. . .not one of your jokes. We're on vacation. Why am I being punished like this?"
"No, you'll like this one!" Matt said.
"A blonde, a brunette and a redhead enter an elevator together.
As they walk in,
they notice a small puddle of white liquid on the floor of the elevator car.
"The brunette bends down for a closer look, and says, very matter of
'It looks like cum.'
"The redhead stoops down a little closer, takes a deep breath through
nose, and proclaims, 'Yes, and it smells like cum.'
"The blonde stoops down closer yet, puts the tip of her finger into
touches it to her tongue, and exclaims, 'Well, it's nobody from our building.'"
"Eeeeeewwwwww!" Mike said. "I don't know where you hear this shit."
"Hehehe. Well, the wrestling team has real men on it. That's where I hear this shit."
"Stop this truck right now! I'm walking!"
Matt started singing, "O Solo Mio!" at the top of his lungs.
"I'd rather be beaten with baseball bats than listen to you sing. I'd rather listen to one of your jokes, even."
"You just don't know talent when you hear it, dude! Did I hear you say you wanna hear another joke?"
"Yes, I did, don't lie to your brother/lover/partner/friend," Matt said, obviously feeling good. "It's not nice."
"This one is short and merciful," Matt said. "And clean."
"A man went into a barbershop and said, 'I'm tired of looking
like everyone else! I want a change! Part my hair from ear to
"'Are you sure?'
"'Yes!' said the man.
"The barber did as he was told, and a satisfied customer left
"Three hours passed and the man re-entered the shop. 'Put it
back the way it was,' he said.
"'What's the matter?' asked the barber. 'Are you tired of being a
"'No,' he replied, 'I'm tired of people whispering in my nose!'"
"You are a very sick man," Mike said.
"LA LA LA LA LA," Matt sang loudly. "I can't hear you!"
Mike reached down and turned up a Green Day CD that was playing, and they moved their heads in time to the music. They continued to aggravate each other the rest of the way home just to pass the time, and finally arrived.
The front door flew open when they pulled up, and the whole family and half the staff poured out into the driveway, with Jeff and Martha leading the way. The elder Bromans headed right for Mike. Jane Broman had tears in her eyes.
"My sweet Michael," she said as she hugged him gently. "Are you all right?"
"I'm fine, Mom. Other than the psychic scars that come from living and traveling with Matt, I'm great."
Mr. Broman hugged Mike and kissed him . "We've been so worried about you, Mike. I was ready to come down to school for you, you know."
"Thanks, Dad," Mike said, kissing him back. "There wasn't much anybody could do but let me heal up. Matt took good care of me."
"Hey, you guys, what about me? I have a bad hangnail, and I need some comforting, too," Matt said to the crowd.
Everybody hooted, and they all unloaded something from the truck and went inside, Martha holding hands with Mike and Matt.
They all ate supper, and caught up on things. After a lazy evening swim, the boys were tired and excused themselves to go to bed. Mrs. Brighton, the Berman's former housekeeper, put her arm around Mike as she went upstairs with them to see if they had everything they needed in their room. Everything was fine, and she touched Mike's bruised face with love as she excused herself and went downstairs.
The boys looked at each other.
"When are we gonna talk to them, and how do you want to handle it?" Mike asked.
"I don't know. What do you think?"
"I think we should do it tomorrow. I don't want it hanging over our heads all the time we're here."
"Would you have a problem if I started with Mom," Mike asked. "I'd like to have her for an ally before we tackle Dad."
"You want to talk to her alone, you mean?"
"Yeah. I just have a feeling that she and I can come to a good understanding, Matt. If you don't want me to, though, I won't."
"No, that's cool. Take a shot. You might wanna wait 'til she's in her studio, and go see her there. She's always in a good mood there," Matt said.
"You know the one I'm most worried about? Martha. How the hell are we going to explain this to her?"
"I don't have a clue. If you and Mom have a good talk tomorrow, ask her how she thinks we should tell Martha. If anyone has the answer, she will."
"Let's keep one thing in perspective, Mike. Coming out looms large to us right now, and we want everything to go well, but whatever happens is a small blip on the horizon of the whole universe. Very small. We're gonna be fine because our happiness can't and won't depend on what anybody else thinks. Let's remember that, too."
Matt took Mike's hand and walked him over to the far wall of the bedroom, where there was a diminutive icon of the Virgin Mary hanging on the wall with a candle holder under it. He took a small votive candle out of a bookcase drawer, put it into a blue votive glass, and lit it. They stood there in silence for a moment.
"Did you pray?" Matt demanded.
"Yes. I prayed for a Vehicular 'No Joke/No Singing' policy to be passed into law. The penalty would be death."
"Do you want hard nuggies on your sore head?"
"No. . .And I really did pray for good things to happen in our family," Mike said.
" 'K. You wanna shower? I'll wash your back," Matt offered. "And your butt. In fact, I'll wash anything you want."
"I'm so ready."
"After you, Monsieur."
They showered, with Matt giving Mike tender care, as usual. He put a fresh ice pack from the ice chest on Mike's leg after Mike was in bed, and then climbed in himself. They went to sleep almost as soon as their heads hit the pillow.
The next day would either be a coming-out party or a wake, they just
didn't know which.