This story is fiction. It depicts, sometimes explicitly, sex between teenage boys, between boys and men, and between boys and females, both teenage and adult. If you find such things offensive, or reading such things is illegal where you live, please read no further.
"I'm sorry," Chuck said to Jerry, "you can't talk to him." It was 6 a.m, and Jerry and Charlie had finally appeared at the police station demanding to know where Dan was.
"Why not?" Charlie demanded.
"Because he's been arrested," was the reluctant reply.
"What! Arrested! On what charge?"
"Now calm down. There were complications and it's just a technicality. There were two killings..."
"Killings? Jesus, Chuck, who? Why? How?"
"Jerry," Chuck stammered uncomfortably, "It was a bit of a screw-up; but the hospital says Dan'll be fine..."
"Hospital!" the other two chorused. "He's hurt? Goddam it, Chuck, which is it? Is he hurt, or under arrest?"
"Well, ...ah... both... and neither, really. Our scum bag friend shot him full of heroine. He's still pretty high, but he'll be fine."
"Oh, yeah, right!" Jerry mocked, "He'll be fine. He's hooked on drugs, up on a murder rap, God knows what else, but he'll be just fine."
"He hasn't been charged. But you have to understand under the circumstances..."
"Well, two people are dead, there was a little six year old boy involved, and we have Dan on film molesting a minor. The captain isn't letting anyone out of his sight until we get it all sorted out who did what to whom. But Eric'll be here in the morning and..."
"Who the hell's Eric?"
"He's the six year old that Dan rescued. He's Dan's witness. That's what I've been trying to tell y'all. His parents are bringing him in to make a statement after he gets some sleep. And the way he was babbling last night about his hero, Dan just might get a medal after he finishes his story. And of course we have it all on tape, including Dan's private conversations with Eric."
After that last comment, Jerry and Charlie would not be appeased until they got the whole story. Chuck was tired and wanted desperately to go home; but he knew he and his department had screwed up bad and Terry was dead as a result, so he told them the whole thing. "But don't worry," he assured them when he was through, "Heads are gonna roll over this one.."
"Oh, that's good," Charlie said with mock relief, "Don't worry. There's only two people dead and almost two more; Dan may well be hooked on drugs, charged with molesting a minor, and got God knows how many diseases from his little adventure. But don't worry 'cause you're gonna roll some heads. I don't care diddly about your fucking heads, Lieutenant. I care about Dan, and no one else. Fuck your Goddam rolling heads!" Charlie was starting to get abusive, so Jerry got him out of there, promising to be back by eight.
Dan was sitting in a small interrogation room where he'd been since 8:30. He had made so many statements his head was spinning. He had a terrific headache and felt generally sick and chilled, which they had told him were effects of the heroine and not at all surprising. They still hadn't told him much, only asked questions; the same ones over and over. Finally at 11:30 the door opened and Jerry and Charlie were ushered in. Of course Dan looked terrible. He had been allowed a quick shower at the hospital; but with no cosmetics, clean clothes and very little time, it had done little except to wash away the blood that had been on everything. Of course his clothes were covered with dried blood. Charlie had all he could do to restrain the tears as he and Dan embraced.
"That's the last time you're doin' anything like that," he decreed. Dan said that was just fine with him. They all sat down, and Dan was asked one more time to fill in the gaps. This time he declined, saying he'd rather forget for a while.
"Besides," he said, "there's something we need to discuss before we go home. I met this kid. Terry's his name, and he's one great kid. I dunno why he's on the streets, but he saved my bacon. I was hoping, if y'all don't mind, he could stay with us till he gets his life together. He's only fourteen, and pretty hooked on dope. But he's a great kid. We got lots'a room, and he..."
"Dan," Charlie interrupted softly. The tone of his voice, the look on his face, told Dan that there was something, something important, that he didn't know. Instinctively Dan quieted down. "Dan," Charlie repeated, "Terry's dead. The whole thing's on tape. Tony was getting ready to cut you when Terry..."
"Can't be" Dan argued, "I was there. I'd 'a known." Dan knew deep down that Terry was dead, but he wanted desperately for it not to be true. He wanted more than anything in the world to be able to talk to Terry; to tell him it was all right, that at last there was someone who cared, who valued him as a person.
"You were out cold, Dan. You hit your head. Then after Tony stabbed Terry, he shot you full of heroine. Then you didn't know anything."
"But Terry! He was so... so..."
"Dan, he saved your life," Jerry said. "But he was a street kid. A junkie. There was probably nothing you coulda done for him."
"I'd like to have the chance to try," Dan replied through his tears.
As they comforted Dan, the door opened again and in walked Chuck, followed by a strange man and woman. The woman was holding the hand of a beautiful little boy.
Eric pulled his hand free the moment he saw Dan and ran to his side. "That's him," he cried excitedly. "That's Uncle Dan!" The three boys rose as Chuck introduced them, but none of them remembered any names, only the tearful mother taking Dan's hands in hers and sobbing hysterically, "Thank you!" she said in a voice that was unmistakably a mother's, "I owe you my son's life!"
There was so much Dan wanted to say. He wanted to tell them how beautiful their son was; he wanted to tell them how brave he was, how he had cooperated and obeyed without question, in spite of what must have been stark terror for him. He wanted to be friends with the whole family, to watch Eric grow up and become tall and strong. He ached to say that the real hero was in the morgue, unclaimed and unwanted. But after the sobbing mother kissed Dan passionately, the father shook his hand and Eric hugged him enthusiastically, they were gone. And then Dan thought again of Terry. Just another street kid, Jerry had said. But without that street kid, two other kids might very well have died last night.
"There's just one more thing you need to do," Chuck was saying, "Then you can go. You need to review that videotape to solidify in your minds exactly what happened. All three of you can if you like, and believe me, it's all there, as if the camera had been guided by a professional."
"Do I have to?" Dan pleaded.
"I guess not. But I thought you'd want to."
"Not in this lifetime," Dan said ruefully. "I know what's on it, and there's a lot I'd rather not remember." Chuck didn't fully understand Dan's reasons, but he accepted them, apologized a few dozen more times, and said they were free to go.
"Just one more thing," he said as they were leaving. Uh-oh, Charlie thought, What now?
"We got samples of your blood and Terry's. We'll be running every test we know, 'cause I know you took some risks you don't normally take. We'll let you know the results." The prospect of disease hadn't occurred to the trio, but of course the possibility was very real, under the circumstances.
"Thanks," Dan said over his shoulder. Then to Jerry, "Please, Jer, can we go home?"
It was two weeks later on a Saturday night when Dan and Charlie were lying in bed resting. The rest was very necessary right now because the test results had come back Friday afternoon and all were negative. During the two week wait, Dan had refused to be intimate with anyone. His spirits had been good, but they were a lot better now. Charlie and Jerry had both worked Friday night, Jerry was not expected home tonight until very late; so Charlie had taken Dan out to dinner, stopped at the club for a few dances, then had gone home early. Hence a much needed rest, for they'd been home several hours.
"I'm still a bit pissed at Jerry," Charlie reflected dreamily.
"Jerry?" Dan quizzed, "Why?" Charlie propped himself up on one elbow.
"Why?" he exclaimed, "He almost got you killed, that's why!"
"Yeah, but he didn't."
"Just the same, it was a kinda stupid thing to do."
"Nope. It's one of the smarter things Jerry's done since we've known him." Charlie eyed him curiously. "How you figger?"
"I think," Dan observed, "that Jerry knows me pretty well. He knows that after what that slime said to me, I coulda been depressed for a very long time. He had to do something to boost my spirits, make me feel worthwhile again."
"But... kids, drugs, kidnapping, murder! Isn't that a little extreme to treat a depression?"
"Yeah, well, it sorta backfired. I guess Jer gave Chuck a little too much credit. The cops didn't know Tony near as well as they thought they did. And how could Jerry know that Chuck's backup would leave him high and dry, 'cause they saw no need to save a faggot from... whatever? But it worked out even better for me. I'll never be able to describe the feeling I got when that little boy saw me in the police station and gave me a hug. And when his mother kissed me, knowing what I am, what I did..."
"She knew you saved her son, and nothing else mattered."
"I know. But she saw that tape too."
"THE tape? The one with..."
"Yep. The whole thing. She's called me a couple times to apologize. Can ya feature that? SHE apologized to ME! She wants us, all three of us, to go over one Sunday afternoon. She says she knows all about us, but she doesn't care anymore. She even said she'd be honored to have us spend time with Eric. So now, being a dirty little whore doesn't feel so bad."
Charlie thought about Dan's remarks. Could he possibly be right? Jerry had done some pretty remarkable things, some of them pretty perceptive. But this! He supposed they'd never know for sure, so he turned back to Dan and they started making plans to visit Eric and his family.
When Jerry came home it was after five a.m. and he was exhausted. Dan and Charlie were still awake, watching a movie and waiting for him. "What're you guys doing up?" Jerry asked with little interest.
"Give ya three guesses," Charlie grinned.
"Well, you're outa luck. I'm bushed."
"That so? Gee, that's too bad, 'cause our hero here, well, he just got his blood tests back. He passed, Jer. But if you're not interested..."
Suddenly Jerry realized he was being teased, and he realized why. He also forgot that he was tired. But what he didn't forget was how special he thought Dan was and how attractive physically, and how long it had been since he'd expressed his love. One more time Jerry broke his own time record for showering, shaving and powdering and getting into bed.
"Hmmm," Charlie mused as he smirked at Dan, "S'pose maybe we were wrong? Think mebbe he is interested after all, just a tad?"
"I dunno," Dan replied, "Mebbe he's just anxious to go to sleep. He did say he was awful tired."
"I'll show ya tired," Jerry threatened. "You tease me any more, and I'll really show you tired." Dan wanted to retort something like, "promises, promises," but he was being attacked by two very good looking, very horny young men. Which made three of them.
"Dan, this is Chuck," Dan heard when he answered the ringing phone. It was after noon on Sunday, another beautiful spring day in Florida. The boys were just getting out of bed when the phone rang. "Did you mean what you said about Terry?"
"You bet I did. Did you find out who he was?"
"Sure did. His name's Terry Blalock, and he's from a small town outside Richmond, Virginia. I'm leaving in four hours, and I'd love to have you along if you're up for it."
"Just try and keep me away!" Dan snapped. He took down flight details, then called the airline.
Charlie and Jerry were eyeing him curiously, wondering what he was up to. "Just something I gotta do," he explained, "and I gotta do it alone."
"He really got to you, didn't he?" Jerry observed.
"He saved my life," Dan reminded him, "and he died doing it. He didn't deserve what happened to him, even before he got himself killed. He was just another homeless kid just like Charlie and me, only he didn't find a Jerry to take care of him."
It seemed to take forever to get to Richmond, but in fact they were landed and in a Richmond police car by six. Chuck had arranged for a local cop to pick them up in an unmarked car and drive them to Terry's home. The parents had already been informed of their son's death, and Chuck's task was to return the small bag containing the boy's personal effects. Dan wasn't sure why he was here, but he knew he had to come.
The door to the Blalock home opened immediately in answer to Chuck's ring, and a pretty woman in her early forties invited them in. "It was good of you to come, Lieutenant," she said as they were ushered into the living room, then she looked blankly at Dan. "And this young man is your son?" she queried.
"Don't I wish!" Chuck answered, startling Dan with his expression of... of what? Admiration? Love? Respect?
"This is Danny McKnight," Chuck went on, "He was working with us the night... when your son was..."
"He saved my life, Mrs. Blalock," Dan blurted out as his tears flooded once more. "He died saving me and a little six year old boy." All of a sudden, to everyone's astonishment, Terry's mother was comforting Dan, the boy her son had given his live to save!
"I'd like to hear about it," she said softly, "If you're up to telling me." Dan assured her he'd been waiting for the day, and as soon as he'd regained his composure he told her the entire story, minus some of the explicit details, plus a few white lies; like for instance that he and Terry had been working with the police from the start.
"But," the father said, "I don't understand what you were all doing there." Now came the hard part. Dan had to tell them everything now.
"I presume you knew," he continued, "that Terry was gay?" No reaction except nods in the affirmative. "And that's why he left home?" Mrs. Blalock smiled slightly.
"We knew he was gay," she agreed, "probably before he did himself. But that had nothing to do with his leaving home. He was doing drugs and we were planning to put him in a treatment center, and that's why he ran away. We always knew, from the time he was a very small boy, that he'd probably be a homosexual. We had come to terms with that long before he told us, possibly even before he knew himself. But he was a good boy and a good son, till the drugs pulled him into the gutter."
Dan wanted very much to know how they had determined Terry's sexuality in hopes it might help him in his upcoming meeting with his own parents, but this was neither the time nor the place.
"Anyway," Dan continued, "this man, if you can stretch a point and call him a man, was making pornographic movies with homosexuals... young ones.
"So you and Terry were... lovers?"
"No, ma'am, not exactly. We hardly knew each other really, but we got together to try and catch this guy. But when we got in there, we discovered he had kidnaped a six year old boy and wanted Terry and me to drug and rape him. We didn't have a chance to plan a strategy so we played it by ear. In order to fill in time till the police got there, and to keep the little boy safe, Terry and I did some things I'm not very proud of. We had to make it look good, so we had sex for Tony in front of his camera. Everything was going fine, but Tony got out the needles and tried to get us to shoot up the little boy."
"And did you?"
"No, ma'am. Terry faked it - made it look as if we did, but we didn't." Dan could see the relief on the woman's face. "Then he handed Terry and me each a needle for ourselves and told us to take them while he undressed the child."
"Dear God!" Mr. Blalock exclaimed, rage showing in his reddening face.
"That's when the fight started. I wasn't gonna tell you this, but since you already know Terry was doing drugs, you deserve to know. I was fighting with Tony and yelling for Eric to run, all the time Terry was just sitting there, staring at that needle like it was something holy. Please try and understand, he was starting to hurt pretty bad, and he needed that needle. I don't do drugs myself and don't like them, but I've been around people who do enough to know it was more than WANT, it was NEED! No problem though, I'm pretty fair in a fight. And in Terry's condition I doubt if he'd have been much help. But when I tripped and hit my head, I was down and helpless.
"Terry was there, Mr. and Mrs. Blalock. When I needed him, when I was about to be stabbed to death, Terry threw down his needle and jumped on Tony. He died saving me, and he chose to die when he could've sat there and taken the drug he needed so badly."
"Danny," Mrs. Blalock said earnestly, "why did you come here?"
"I had to, ma'am," he answered as he fought to keep the tears at bay.
"But why? What did you hope to accomplish?"
Until this moment Dan wasn't sure himself why he had come, but suddenly it was perfectly clear to him that he couldn't possibly stay away. When two young teens joined the gathering in the living room, Mrs. Blalock introduced them as Sean, thirteen, and Amy, sixteen, Terry's brother and sister. At first Dan hesitated, but the parents assured him that they had a right to hear the whole story too. And so Dan continued.
"I don't know how much y'all know about how Terry was making a living, but it isn't easy for someone his age..."
"If you're trying to tell us he was selling sexual favors," Terry's father interrupted, "We already know."
Dan could sense the anguish, the anger, and now he was determined to let it all hang out. He also sensed that this family had warmed to him.
"We, my two partners and I," he went on, "we were, or are, in the same business. We're not proud of it and we're trying to become respectable as fast as we can. But when you take away all the frills, the nice clothes, it's the same thing. We'd likely have been on the street with Terry except we didn't have the drug problem to deal with, and we had a friend who'd survived the streets, and he taught us how to get along."
"But your family?"
"Charlie, my lover and I, discovered, or at least faced, our sexuality rather suddenly. Unfortunately we were discovered by two of our friends. We panicked and ran away. Since then I've made up with my folks, and in fact we're going for a visit in a few weeks. Charlie's father wants nothing to do with him, and Jerry has no family.
"I had to come here because I feel that Terry might be alive if it weren't for me. I knew what was going on in that house, but he didn't. He thought he was going there to make a movie and get a fix, not get involved in a kidnaping."
"Terry died six months ago," his mother sobbed. "He died when he got hooked." Terry's brother and sister were eyeing Dan curiously.
"But that's just it," Dan protested, "he didn't. When it came to getting down and dirty, he compromised his body and self respect to protect a little boy. Then he turned his back on his precious drugs and got between me and a knife. No, ma'am, Terry was very much alive that night. Terry had been called a dirty little whore, and so have I for that matter.
"And in case y'all have heard talk like that," he was talking to the kids now, "you need to remember that Terry's last conscious act was to throw away a drug needle to help a friend in trouble... me! You also need to know," and Dan lied again, "I don't think he felt that knife at all. I think he died instantly. And that's why I had to come here."
Everyone sat quietly in the comfortable living room, each eyeing the others, trying to size them up. Eyes were wandering from one to another; all eyes that is except Sean's, who was staring at Dan so intently that Dan was feeling very uncomfortable. He was pretty sure he knew what that stare meant, which made him all the more uncomfortable. Those eyes, a deep liquid brown just like his own, were searching, questioning, demanding. In that instant Dan knew he hadn't seen the last of them.
Now that Dan had performed the errand that lay heavy on his heart, he was suddenly frantic to get home so he could cry in Charlie's arms. The sight of the Blalock's had shaken Dan to his very toenails. They were just a normal, average middle class family, with a white house and a two car garage that Dan would bet a thousand dollars contained a station wagon. This was not at all what popped into Dan's head as the image of the typical street kid's family. So why then had Terry got into drugs? What would keep his brother and sister from doing the same? Now Dan was truly impressed with the power, the irresistible hold those ugly substances had over so many kids his own age and younger. Before he realized what he was doing, he heard himself addressing Terry's siblings.
"I hope y'all know better than to ever run away," he said, "But just in case you ever do, I'm giving you each my card, with your parents' permission of course. And I'm begging you, please call me. I promise on my honor, on my life that I owe your brother, I won't turn you in. I'll listen to your reasons for running and try to help you, but I won't turn you in." Suddenly Dan saw himself in these two kids, and his own parents in theirs. At that moment he'd have cheerfully given his soul to be home where he could hug his mom and dad. Right now that was impossible, so he did the next best thing: he hugged Terry's parents; then he hugged his brother and sister. They would indeed call him, they told him, but not because they'd run away.
"W-would you like to see Terry's room?" Sean offered tentatively. The thought hadn't occurred to Dan, but faced with the prospect, he wanted desperately to see what had, for fourteen years or so, been Terry's world. He looked questioningly at Mrs. Blalock, who nodded her consent. Silently he rose and followed Sean up the stairs while Chuck went through the formalities of presenting Terry's effects to his parents.
The small bedroom Dan found himself inspecting was just about what one might expect. There were a few trophies on a small shelf, a model plane hanging on a thread as if in a dive. There was a small desk, school books still piled neatly in one corner, an array of pencils and pens in a small rack obviously made by a boy in Shop. To Dan it seemed that the room had been purposely kept as a shrine; probably just the way it would have been had Terry still been here, albeit a bit more neat.
"You thought a lot of Terry, didn't you?" Dan asked, more to break the silence than anything.
"I worshiped him." was the emotional reply. "Sometimes I wish I coulda died in his place, just to prove to him how much I loved him."
"I think he knew," Dan assured him. "I can tell, just by the way you speak about him."
"You and Terry..." Sean questioned as he checked to make sure they were alone, "You... were lovers?"
"Well, sorta," Dan answered, "We only got together that night because we really had no choice."
"You don't have to apologize," Sean said softly, those big brown eyes locking on Dan's again, "I knew he was gay. I am too."
"Does that mean... you and Terry...?"
Sean laughed nervously. "Naw," he said, "not really. Oh, we messed around a little, but at the time we were too young to really know what we were doing." Dan was growing more uncomfortable by the minute. He was pretty sure he knew where this conversation was going.
"I don't suppose," Sean said almost in a whisper, "You find me attractive?"
"It... it doesn't really matter whether I do or not," Dan evaded, "I still couldn't..."
"Why not? If you're worried about my folks, they know. Like they said, they knew probably before Terry and I did."
"Well, that's part of it," Dan replied anxiously, "But... but you're only thirteen, and I'm..."
"Driving me nuts!" Sean interrupted passionately. "Would you... ah... would you at least kiss me?"
Dan had no intention of doing anything physical with Sean; but before he had time to answer, Sean's lips were on his. When he felt the unmistakable probing of Sean's tongue, his lips parted to allow entry. Dan had honestly not noticed Sean to be particularly attractive; but his kiss was one of the sweetest, most passionate, he had received in a long time. Instantly the fires of desire were raging inside both boys.
"We better get downstairs," Dan whispered when he could bear to pull away. "If I stay here, I might do something I'll regret."
"Bet you wouldn't regret it," Sean challenged.
"Probably not, at the time. But tomorrow I'd hate myself. But in two or three years, if you're still interested..." Sean answered wordlessly by grasping Dan in a place where one usually doesn't touch another. What he found there was ample evidence that Dan was indeed having trouble saying no.
"That was a nice thing you did," Chuck said when they were on their way to the airport, heading for home.
"Thanks," Dan returned, "It was just something I had to do. They needed to know that Terry died an honorable death, not in the gutter, high on drugs."
"By the way," Chuck went on self consciously, "what I said back there, about wishing you were my son? I meant it."
Dan glanced up into the eyes of the big cop sitting next to him, then did a double take. The eyes were filled with tears.
"You're not so bad yourself," he grinned, "for a cop!"
As they arrived at the terminal and Chuck thanked the Richmond officer for his kindness, Dan suddenly wanted to go home. All at once the picture of the dying boy, the grief stricken parents, the indignities he had endured, the scorn of so much of society, all were too much. Dan had been called upon to be an adult, a full and complete and total adult, once too often. He longed, he ached, to once again be a little boy in his mother's arms. He wanted to be with Charlie. He wanted to run back to the Blalock's house and make love with Sean. He wanted everything and nothing, all at the same time.
When Chuck finally bade his colleague good-bye and turned around, he was faced with a weeping, trembling child. Not a man, not even a teen: a child! Chuck knew a lot more about the three boys than he ever let on. He had never investigated them, hadn't had to. Twenty-five years of police work told him instinctively that they were younger than they appeared, that their id was false, and that they had come from middle-class, relatively stable backgrounds. So Chuck knew instantly that the strain of the past month had taken its toll; Dan's emotional system had completely shut down.
In police work, like most other professions that deal with real live people, it's important to learn to be detached, to not get too emotionally involved. Chuck Dalzell had learned that lesson years ago; he had learned it so well he often appeared callous and uncaring. But Chuck Dalzell was far from uncaring. He had three kids of his own, all boys, whom he adored. They were good boys, aged sixteen, eighteen and nineteen. They had never given their parents any trouble, had always done well in school, were passable athletes. Countless times throughout his career Chuck had ignored the rule book and his better judgment and taken home some street kid, cleaned him or her up and filled his belly, then tried to find a permanent home. More often than not his efforts were fruitless, and he had developed instincts about that too. And his instinct was screaming at him right now, telling him once again that this was no ordinary street kid. Chuck really didn't even think about what happened next. He simply took Dan's arm and hailed a cab. "Closest place I can get a room," he ordered.
Before he even realized what was happening to him, Dan found himself stripped and in a bathtub full of warm water, being bathed gently by Chuck Dalzell. As he got control of himself, Dan started apologizing. Of course he knew they'd missed their flight. "No need for apologies," Chuck said in a very uncharacteristically gentle voice. "There'll be lots of planes in the morning, and tonight you and I have a date right here." Seeing the shocked look on his young friend's face brought a smile to Chuck's. "Not THAT kinda date," he chuckled, "I just think it's time you told me the whole story." He lifted Dan effortlessly out of the water, toweled him, and instructed him to get into bed. Dan obeyed, still naked, still not convinced he wasn't about to be propositioned and unsure what he'd do if he was. As Chuck crawled in beside Dan, he handed him his undershorts. "Better put these on," he grinned, "in case we have company in the night."
As Dan related the story he had by now repeated so many times, Chuck's hands were all over his upper body, gently caressing and massaging. Having been a father to three athletic boys, Chuck was very familiar with massage techniques and how effectively the human hand could relieve tension when applied properly. And to Dan's surprise he found he wasn't getting aroused, not even a slight erection. It was as if even his pleasure probe, usually ready in a heartbeat, realized that this was a tender moment, not an erotic one. They talked well into the night, with Dan telling Chuck everything. His instincts were improving too, to the point that he seemed to know that this was between two friends, not a cop and a runaway kid. The telling of the whole thing once more made Dan feel better too, and by the time he finally dropped off to sleep he was ready to go back to Daytona; ready to acknowledge that this was now his home.
"You need to call your folks," Chuck said as he handed Dan the phone. It was early Monday morning and they were getting ready to leave for the airport.
"Now?" Dan questioned. "Why now?"
"Same reason you had to come see Terry's folks. You saw the anguish they suffered. What if you'd been killed?"
"But... but, what'll I say?"
"Say what you feel - what you've been telling me half the night - that you love them and wish you were with them."
"But I can't go..."
"I didn't say GO home, I said wish! Isn't that what you're thinking, that you wish you could go home?" Dan didn't answer, but he took the phone and dialed the number. When he heard his mother's voice the tears started again.
"We can't, Dan," Charlie was protesting loudly, "and I think you know it." Dan had just got back from Richmond and related his experience, including the phone call during which he had told his parents everything, including his most recent experience. Now he was proposing that they all accept his mom's offer and move back home. Charlie and Jerry were not at all pleased that he had told all, but Dan was so shaken it was, they supposed, to be expected.
"How would we live?" Jerry demanded.
"That's the whole point. We could go back to school, and we wouldn't have to worry about a thing."
"Except," Charlie reminded him, "that we'd still be three faggots living together in a small town."
"They'd get used to it, just like folks around here that know us."
"You know better, Dan. This is Daytona, Florida and that's Truro, Nova Scotia. You might as well be talking about the other side of the moon! Besides, we're lovers, not brothers. Your mom and dad..."
"My mom and dad want us home and safe, on any terms we choose."
"They say that now, but if we went, things'd change. Not that I think they're lying, but they just would."
The controversy raged for over a week, with Dan being adamant that they could work things out and Jerry and Charlie being just as determined that they couldn't. Finally Jerry said, "I think you should go, Dan. You're not happy here any more, so you move back home, no hard feelings. It's not as if we won't see each other at all. Between us getting up there and you coming down, we'd probably get together three or four times a year."
Charlie's mind immediately conjured up an image of life without Dan, and the picture wasn't very pretty. But he knew Jerry was right, and they had agreed from the start that if Dan decided to go home they wouldn't stop him. Now Charlie held his breath waiting for Dan's reaction. Dan looked first at Jerry, then Charlie, then back to Jerry. "You mean it?" he quizzed, "You'd let me go, just like that? That's all I mean to you?" Charlie was dumbfounded. Dan had wanted them to tell him he couldn't go!
"Dan," Jerry said with exasperation, "it's not what we want, but we love you, you crazy Canuck faggot, and we want to see you happy. If that means losing you for a year or two, well, them's the breaks."
"It's the same reason," Charlie added, "that your folks haven't sent the troops down here to get you. They love you, so as long as you're happy and safe they're willing to let you stay. I won't lie and say it'd be easy to let you go, but if you go, you go. Jerry and I can't. I wish to God we could, but we can't." Charlie was holding Dan now, holding him tightly as if at any moment they'd be ripped apart forever. "But if you go," he added as he fought the tears, "you have to promise you'll come back if things don't work out at home."
"No need," Dan said suddenly. "I can't go without you. So if y'all aren't goin', neither am I. Now I want a promise from both of you. I don't want this whole thing mentioned again, okay?" Neither Charlie nor Jerry understood this demand, but it was a small price to pay if that's all they had to do to keep Dan. So they agreed readily, then all three got back down to the business of building a life together. And soon, very soon, it would be time to visit, repeat visit, Nova Scotia. During that time Charlie began to form the seed of an idea.
True to his word, Dan attacked every aspect of their business with a renewed vigor and enthusiasm. There was no more talk of moving back home, no more discussion of the dangers they faced or the hardships they might endure if things went wrong. Before they all knew it, before they were ready really, June 4th was only two days away, the day the boys were to leave for home. This was a slow time for their business and they had been extremely busy all spring, so they had decided to take the month of June off. They had a fair bit of money in the bank, the two cars paid for, and the business was growing to the point that they were starting to look for more help. They had decided to take the Lincoln so they could all three sit in the front comfortably. Charlie, of course, would have preferred to take the Mustang, but it was just impractical.
John and Linda Jenkins were there to see them off the morning of the fourth. "Just try to act natural," John offered one last piece of advice. "And keep those things of yours in your pants while you're there. If you feel that they would be more comfortable with you all in separate beds, go along with it. No sense pushing it." Charlie and Dan hadn't even considered sleeping arrangements, but they were glad for John's advice.
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