Finding Love: A Journey
(Copyright 2007 by the author)
Disclaimer: This is a fictional story dealing with love and consensual sexual
activities between males. If you are not of legal age, reside in an area where
viewing such material is illegal, or are offended by homosexuality and/or
homosexual themes, leave this site now.
The characters in this story do not always practice safe sex. Remember this is fiction. You should always use a condom for the your protection and especially for the protection of the one you love. The author recommends only safe sex. Be wise and follow safe sex practices.
Several songs are quoted in this story. The copyrights to these are held by the artists or their publishers and not by the author. They are quoted as a tribute to the artist and the piece.
All persons in this story are fictional and any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
All other disclaimers apply. The author retains all rights. No reproductions
are allowed without the author's consent. Comments are appreciated at...
"Quand la morale triomphe, il
se passe des choses tres vilaines." (When morals triumph, many very
evil things happen).
from the ending of Chapter 13:
. . . Chris was lying in the hospital bed, tubes running into him, plastic tubes of kinds I didn't recognize. There were wires, too, running to machines that were making strange sounds. His complexion was white and his skin seemed almost transparent. And then it hit me. He looked like my mother before she died. In unison Brad and I gasped. His body tensed and I knew immediately that he was about to lose it.
His mother recognizing the signs, too, was at our side, hugging Brad tightly. She looked at me and smiled. Brad turned to me and began to sob, so I took him into my arms, and even if my heart was breaking and tears were struggling to get out of my eyes, I fought back. Brad needed me now, probably more than he might need me for a long time.
As I hugged him, I kept repeating, almost as a mantra:
"Everything will be okay. Everything will be okay. Everything will . . ."
". . .be okay," Brad said as he stifled a sob.
Slowly Brad let go of me, but
kept my hand in his. He stumbled toward the bed, but stopped before
he reached it whereupon he took a deep breath. His father was
standing on the other side of the bed holding Chris' hand. When he
looked at Brad, it was obvious that Mr. Mason had been crying.
Brad continued to the other side of the bed; he reached out with his free hand and gently stroked his brother's hand which was the site of an IV. He kept holding my hand, squeezing it so tightly that I thought I would have to ask him to let up a little, but that was not necessary. Brad let go of my hand as he leaned down and kissed Chris on the forehead, his tears splashing down and landing on his brother's white face. Everyone in the room was weeping. Travis had moved to his wife and held her in his arms.
I waited for Brad as he spoke in a sob-wracked whisper. I couldn't hear what he was saying, but I knew that it was something that only Chris was supposed to hear. He kissed him again, turned and fell into my arms and we stood there supporting each other, trying as best we could to help the other through this emotional moment.
Brad led me to his mother and father stopping there; the three of them hugged each other and wept. I stood a little aside waiting. Mr. Mason reached out and took my hand and pulled me into the group hug. That's when I lost it. All those emotions that I had been trying to keep in, to attempt to keep my agony private so that Brad could hopefully keep control, came flying out of me in enormous sobs.
Brad now had me in his arms and he was whispering to me assuring me that everything would be okay. Just hearing that caused me to fall further apart. His mother suggested he take me outside and help me get control.
Brad practically dragged me out of the room and into the corridor.
"Calm down, Jake, please."
"I'm trying," I said stifling some sobs.
"Let's go outside for a couple of minutes, okay?"
Douglas and Diane Neilson had
sat in the waiting room with Sadie for some time. They were
beginning to be a little impatient, hopeful that someone would let
them know what was happening.
Sadie worried that Brad wouldn't do well when he finally saw his brother. She also worried that Jacob might not be able to handle the situation well. Then she told herself that those two would make it through. She glanced at Diane and Doug and her heart warmed.
Finally, she thought, Douglas had someone to love, someone who would listen, encourage, and support him. And for Jacob, Diane would show him the kind of affection that he needed. Although she could never replace his mother, Diane would be able to take a place in his life that would move him toward manhood and maturity. She accepted that even if Jacob loved her and thought of her as his mom, Diane would soon move into that role and she would quietly move aside.
Diane got up and walked to the window. She stared out at the bright sun-covered lawn. She saw Jacob and Brad walking slowly together, chatting, stopping, but there was no laughter. Both young men seemed tense.
She called Doug and Sadie to the window. They saw the boys, and in their own way, saw two serious and bewildered young men.
"What do you imagine they are talking about?" asked Diane.
"My guess is that Jacob is trying to help Brad understand or accept what has happened to his brother," Sadie said.
"How can he do that, Sadie; he's just a boy himself. I don't think he understands," said Douglas.
Sadie thought carefully before she answered,
"Douglas, Jacob has known heartache and tragedy in his young life. He lost his mother, his brother. He even lost touch with his sister. He also knows the agony of what it is to want to be loved but feeling that he was somehow guilty of something that turned you away from him. Dear, dear Douglas, Jacob understands a great deal. He has already been on a journey of realization. Forgive me for my bluntness, Douglas, but it's the truth."
Diane broke the silence that followed. She had taken Doug's hand in hers. She looked up at him and gave him a quick peck on the cheek.
"You do know, Doug, that your son is a remarkable young man. He is more mature than you imagine. If anyone can help Brad at this moment, it is Jacob."
Doug walked away from the two women and over to the window. As he looked out he saw Jacob hug Brad, and he realized suddenly that what Sadie and Diane had said was the truth and that he hadn't seen it or understood it. His throat closed in a gulp of sadness and he held in the sob that was struggling to get out. How stupid he had been! How unfair he had been to Jacob! How cruel he had been without that ever being his intention! And from his somewhat wrinkled soul and hard heart there streamed forth a love he would never imagined was a part of him. He now knew that he would gladly die for Jacob, to protect him, to keep him safe. He understood in that magical moment what it is like for a father to truly love his son. When he felt Diane's hand on his shoulder and Sadie's presence, that long held sob escaped. He felt free and his soul floated and his heart beat freely.
"Are you okay, Doug?" asked Diane.
"Yes, finally I know something about myself and my son that I either hid from my conscious self or never wanted to understand. I know now that I am lucky to have a son who could continue to love me when I had practically deserted him. Thanks to you and Sadie I know that truth now. And watching my son console his friend, confirmed all that you two have told me. I only hope that Jacob can forgive me."
"He already has. He already has, Doug," assured Sadie.
Brad had helped me get control.
By the time we were outside walking on the green lawn that bordered
the medical center, I told him,
"Don't you feel better about how your parents are acting, Brad? I mean, your mom seems to accept us, and your dad had been supportive and welcoming to me, even drawing me into that family hug. They seem to want to support Chris. They both have been emotional about him." I said.
"I don't trust my father."
"Because he says and does one thing and really believes something quite the opposite. He'll kick Chris out of the house as soon as he's better."
"You don't really believe that, do you?" I asked.
"Yeah, I do."
"Cripes, Brad, he seems so willing to accept us."
"In a heartbeat, he'd send Chris and me away to some damn place where some religious zealots would try to turn us into heterosexuals. Most intelligent people know that can't be done. But my dad and others like him believe that God will provide the force needed to make us change."
"That's scary, Brad. I don't want to believe it. It's too weird," I said.
We were sitting at a picnic table now, watching some passing boats. Folks on the boats waved at us and we waved back. I thought about how much fun it would be to be out on the water. Eventually my dad wanted to have a boat. When he got it, and after some instruction, I was sure Brad and I would be able to use it. Then I thought about the car my dad wanted to get for me. Maybe that would take Brad's mind off his brother's injuries and his fear about trusting his father.
"My dad wants to buy me a car sometime. Actually he wanted to do it this week, but with all that has happened, he'll probably wait until things settle down."
"You're shitting me, Jake."
"I don't know. We haven't discussed that. Anyway, I thought you would have some ideas. I want you to come with us when we go out looking for it."
"That would be great. Jake with a car. Scary!"
"How much driving have you done, my web-footed friend?"
"None of your business, quarterback boy."
"It's so good to hear you laugh, Brad."
"Yeah, it feels good. Thanks, Baby."
"Thanks for what?"
"For being you."
"No, Jake, I really mean that. You make me happy."
"You do a damn good job."
"I have many talents."
"I know about some of them, and you are talented."
"Glad you noticed and that you liked some of them."
Brad ran his hand over my crotch. He laughed a little and told me,
"Hmm, that thing is one of my favorites."
"I know that. Remember we sleep together."
"And that always makes my day, or night, or both. Am I sleeping with you tonight?"
"Yes, if I have anything to do with it."
"Maybe this will be a test for my father. Now that he knows about us, maybe he won't let me stay with you tonight."
"He'll let you. I know he will," I said.
"Time will tell."
"I'm ready to go back into the hospital. Are you ready, Sweetheart?"
"Let's go," Brad answered.
John and Lorraine Li arrived at
the hospital and were taken immediately to the waiting room in the
trauma center. There were a few people there, but they didn't know
any of them. Nurse Freeman spoke quietly to them motioning and
walking toward the Neilsons.
"Mr. and Mrs. Neilson, this is John and Lorraine Li, Peter's mother and father. Mr. and Mrs. Li, this is Douglas and Diane Neilson, friends of Chris's parents. The Masons are with their son at the moment. I'll try to get in touch with Dr. Norris who is handling your son Peter's case. Please make yourself comfortable. I'll try to get back to you as quickly as possible." Nurse Freeman hurried away.
Everyone settled into chairs and tried to get comfortable. The Li's sat quietly looking about the room. Mr. Li was Oriental and Mrs. Li was Caucasian. Both of them were stunning people and together they made a handsome couple.
"Do you know what happened?" asked John Li.
"Peter and Chris had come down here because Chris' brother needed him. There had been an attempt on Chris' brother and our son's lives early today. Chris and Peter drove down from Gainesville and arrived at our place. We opened the gate for them and as they were ready to drive in, a pickup truck came screaming down the street and crashed into Peter's car trapping both boys in the car. It was the same pickup that had tried to force Chris' brother Brad off the road earlier."
"Is this man crazy?" asked Lorraine.
"Sort of," Diane answered.
John Li stood and walked to the window. He stared out at the waterway while quietly parsing his question. He turned and walked back and stood before Diane. Then he spoke quietly,
"Madam, could you please explain to me what you meant when you said the man was `sort of crazy'. I don't understand."
"He's a bigot and filled with hate," said Diane.
"How does that have anything to do with Peter?
Douglas Neilson couldn't take any more of what he thought was becoming a guessing game. He stood up and moved to John Li. He cleared his throat,
"Look, Li, the creep hated gays. Brad is gay and so is my son Jacob. They're a couple so to speak. My guess is that this nut saw Chris in the car and thought it was Brad as they resemble each other. He wanted to finish what he had started earlier in the day. The tragedy is not only did he injure Peter and Chris, but also the two young men riding in the cab with him. And he was killed."
"Oh my God!" cried Lorraine.
"It's terrible, isn't it," said Sadie. Lorraine looked at Sadie with questioning in her eyes.
"I'm sorry, Lorraine. I should have introduced her earlier. This is Sadie our housekeeper. She has been taking care of Jacob for some years. Actually Douglas and I were just married a couple of days ago. Jacob lost his mother a few years ago and his brother was killed in an accident. It's because of Sadie that he has become a wonderful young man," Diane said.
"I am happy to meet you, Sadie. This is my husband John. We are so afraid that Peter is hurt badly. Do you know anything about what's happening?"
Doug and John walked over and stood in our little group. Lorraine looked at Doug, sadness in her eyes. John remained aloof, almost separated from the rest of us. Diane took Doug's hand. Doug looked helpless, but he told the parents,
"Peter was seriously hurt. When the truck hit the car, he was pushed into the side of the car and the wrought-iron fence to our property. He was the first to be taken to the hospital. We don't know anything more than that. Oh, here comes Father Jim, maybe he knows more."
Sadie walked over and met Father Jim. She brought him to the group introducing him to the Li's. Father Jim spoke quietly,
"I really don't know too much about what's going on. Dr. Norris had sent Peter to surgery, and he was just transferred to intensive care. I'm sure that Dr. Norris will be out shortly as he is aware that you are here. Nurse Freeman notified him, but right now he's checking on Peter."
Lorraine started to stagger, but John Li steadied her and helped her to a nearby chair. They were both pale, and emotion caused them to shake slightly. There were also tears.
"I just pray that he'll be okay. Peter's such a wonderful boy. He always helped us at home. He . . ." Lorraine was saying just before she was interrupted by the appearance of Dr. Norris.
Dr. Norris was a short but not rotund man. In his middle fifties, he exuded confidence and ability. His hair was receding and if you looked carefully, you could see the beginning of a slight widening of his middle. He had an infectious smile which made you immediately feel comfortable. He wore dark rimmed glasses. His stethoscope hung loosely over his white coat. His hands were small and fine for a man, but his overall appearance shouted competence. Nurse Freeman accompanied him.
"Dr. Norris," she said, "this is John and Lorraine Li, Peter's parents." After the introduction, Nurse Freeman went back to her station.
"I'm happy to meet both of you, although I wish it could be at a more auspicious time. If you would be kind enough to come with me, I will give you as much information as I presently know. I'm sorry that the rest of you cannot hear this as it is against hospital procedures to share medical and personal information with any but immediate family. In this case, that would be you Mr. and Mrs. Li."
"We understand, Dr. Norris. We'll wait patiently until someone allows us to see Chris and Peter. We're just very good friends, actually our son is a friend of Chris. I'm sure we'll get information soon. Mr. and Mrs. Li, won't you join us later for dinner at our home. I'm sure the Masons will be there as will Father Jim, my son, and Brad."
"Thank you, Mr. Neilson, we'll be happy to join all of you," said John Li.
John, Lorraine, and Father Jim, quietly followed Dr. Norris out of the waiting room. Nurse Freeman immediately came over to the remaining three.
"You folks should go up to the fourth floor waiting room. That's the floor where Chris and Peter are. Take the elevator just inside that door over there," she said as she pointed in the direction of the door.
Diane and Sadie got their purses and with Doug moved to the elevator. Soon they were on their way up to the fourth floor. After the elevator door had closed, Nurse Freeman thought to herself what nice people they were. She hoped, and in fact, said a little prayer that everything would be fine.
On our way to the fourth floor,
Brad and I found a small room on the third floor that was near the
stairwell. We stopped there for a few minutes. I could tell that
something was gnawing at him and I wondered if I should ask or leave
it alone and let him tell me when he felt like it.
"Jake, if I ask you something, will you promise me that you won't get angry with me?" Brad asked.
"You can ask me anything, Brad," I said.
Brad didn't say anything for a bit, but took my hand and kissed it. Then he looked at me, actually making me a little uneasy by the intensity of his stare. The he asked,
"Will you always love me?"
"Will you always love me?"
"Of course, of course. My God, Brad, of course!"
"Please, Jake, don't get emotional, not yet."
Brad paused for a moment, then got up and moved away from me fleetingly, then said,
"What I mean, Jake, is, well, we're young. For example, you're just so fuckin' beautiful that I know guys are going to be hitting on you alot. And well, should I expect you to never become involved with another guy?"
The tears were now running down my face. Brad saw that and he swallowed hard. I couldn't speak or move because my heart was split in two pieces. Finally I struggled to get out something intelligent.
"Bradley Mason, I told you when we first were together that I didn't need anyone else except you. I still feel the same way, but I guess you're having second thoughts. If you want, we can end this relationship and just be friends, or if that is uncomfortable for you, we can just split."
"Jacob Neilson, I will stick by you hoping we can grow old together. I want to be by your side whatever the future may hold for us. I had to ask Jake, because I would never want to hold you back, to prevent you from exploring your feelings. I know how much I love you, Jake, and I know you love me, too. But we're young. Do you think we can make it together?"
"Yes," I replied quietly and then wept.
Brad had just taken me into his arms to comfort me, when Father Jim came into our little sanctuary. He looked at the two of us wondering, I am sure, what was going on. He quickly asked,
"Is everything okay, guys? Do you need any help?"
"Maybe you could help us a little," said Brad.
Father Jim looked at me, saw my emotional distress, and asked me,
"Jacob, do you want my help, too, or would you rather I leave?"
"Stay," I choked out.
"We've been sorta discussing something. It upset Jake and I'm also unhappy with the way the discussion went. So, anyway . . ."
I pulled away from Brad and faced Father Jim. I could see that Father Jim was confused. I finally was able to say,
"Do you think we're too young to be committed to each other? Brad wonders if we will be able to stay together; he thinks I might get hit upon by other guys and that I would probably want to experiment."
"Jake, that's not what I said or what I want you to do. For God's sake, Jake cool it," yelled Brad.
"I don't have to stay here and have you yell at me. You're not my lord and master. I thought you were my boyfriend, but I'm not so sure anymore." I said.
"You need a kick . . ." but Father Jim interrupted.
"Hold it you two. Just what is this argument all about?"
Brad was angry. I could tell by his red face and the near shaking of his body. I felt like yesterday's breakfast. I knew I needed to say something intelligent or something that might defuse the mess I seemed to be making.
"Brad, please forgive me. I know that you are my boyfriend and I don't want it any other way. Will you forgive me? Please?" I asked.
"Forgiven!" he replied.
"So, what started this?" asked Father Jim.
"I asked him if would always love me." Brad said.
"And I said, `Of course.'"
Father Jim took both of us by the shoulder and pushed us to the sofa.
We sat, our bodies touching, and I began to want to be in Brad's arms, to make love, to be truly forgiven for my stupidity. Before I could say or do anything, Brad leaned to me and kissed me on the cheek.
"Are you two a little more calm now?" asked the good priest.
"Yeah," we said in unison.
"Good. Now, I sense the problem is that you two or at least one of you began to wonder if your relationship could weather the years to come at college and then the early years after that. You're both young, but in another sense, you are extraordinarily mature.
"Because you are young, you have yet to meet other people. Some of them will tempt you, but that isn't a problem. The problem would result if you followed the temptation. That would lead to distrust, jealousy, and probably a break up. But that doesn't have to happen.
"I told you earlier that I thought you two were sincerely in love with each other. I know that the sexual drive is strong and I can feel that energy now in this room, even if you are both upset with each other. But, guys, just think about this: you both say you love each other. Love doesn't always run smoothly, but what usually happens in a real relationship is that it gets stronger.
"That isn't to say that something might happen that would cause you to separate. It happens, not just to gay couples but to all couples. I don't see that in your future because the strength of your love is strong."
Neither of us said anything, waiting, I guess for Father Jim to continue. He seemed to read our minds and went on.
"Perhaps what happened to you guys today has made you concerned about the future. You realize without discussing it that Chris and Peter have a difficult road ahead of them. We're still not sure how badly hurt Peter is or if he will need long term care, or whatever. Is Chris strong enough to stick with him? Neither of these two guys ever imagined that they would be in this situation, but things happen.
"I don't know the two of them so it's difficult for me to say how they will react to this. I hope that they will weather it and remain a loving couple . . " Brad interrupted,
"Father Jim, Chris is really in love with Peter, and from what I know of Peter he is madly in love with Chris. I think you're right, though. I had been thinking about the two of them and then I wondered about Jake and me. I guess that Jake is stronger than me and I knew that he would love me no matter what and that I could make it through most anything life might throw at me as long as I have his love and support."
"Why didn't you just tell me all this, Brad?" I asked.
"I was afraid that you would think I was weak. I didn't want that. So I asked you if you would always love me."
"Didn't Jake tell you that he would?" asked Father Jim.
"Then I don't see what the problem is. You need to help me understand," the priest said.
"I read somewhere that sometimes you don't know what you have until you don't have it. I think that's what happened to me. I didn't want to lose Jake in order to find out what I no longer had. It frightened me, Father; it scared the shit out of me. Oops, sorry Father, I usually am careful with my language around older people."
Father Jim laughed and Brad joined him, but I didn't.
"It's okay, Brad, believe it or not, I've heard the word once of twice. I also recognize that you are a little emotional."
I was still in a state of shock or anger or something and I just sat there. Brad seemed oblivious to my state of mind and at the moment was unable to help me. Brad didn't sense the depth of my distress. But Father Jim knew. He sat on the other side of me on the sofa and put his arm around me.
"Jake, how are you doing?" he asked.
Brad looked at me his eyes moist and his lips parted as if he were to speak, but he said nothing. My heart was thumping in my chest and I was sweating profusely. My shaking was increasing and the more I tried to stop it, the more it seemed to increase. I could see concern in Father Jim's eyes and confusion on Brad's face.
"I'm okay," I squeaked out.
"Are you sure, Jacob? You don't seem to be yourself," said Jim.
I tried to speak again, but I couldn't get anything out of my mouth. Brad suddenly understood and was on his knees before me, his head resting in my lap. The tears started at that moment. I stroked his hair as I wept.
"I'm so sorry, Baby, I've hurt you and that's the last thing I wanted. I love you, Jake. I love you very much; can you forgive me, please? Brad said in a choking voice.
Father Jim got up and quietly left us alone in our little refuge. I gathered all my composure and said,
"I was so scared, Sweetheart. I was afraid you wanted to leave me. I thought I would die. Then I got angry and yelled at you. How can you forgive me? But I do love you, Brad, more than life itself. Hold me please," I begged.
Brad raised his tear-streaked face from my lap and pulled me into his arms. There on the floor of the room, we both wept, knowing that we were a couple for as long as God gave us to be together. We would face life with as much bravery as possible, always certain that love makes all things possible. We were still sitting on the floor in each other's arms when my father came into the room. He looked at the two of us, still silently weeping, and he came directly to us, got on his knees and held us in his arms, and he whispered to both of us,
"We love both of you. You are our sons. Just keep loving each other as we love you. Now, Brad you need to go see Chris as he is now awake. Are you two okay?
"Father Jim spoke to me, so I know a little about what happened. I'm not trained in these things, but I do want you to know this. Sometimes life hands terrible tests to us. I failed some of those tests and hurt someone I loved very much. Don't do that; love each other and tell each other every day, every moment of your time together. How I wish I had told Jacob that, but I was too much into myself.
"I've learned a great deal about love from Diane and Sadie. They love unconditionally. And I have learned about love from you guys. All of you have showed me the way to a much happier life. But, Jacob, I want you to be happy with Brad. So do Diane and Sadie. We see such love and caring in you two.. Just remember that we are always here for you and nothing you want to tell us will ever make us stop loving you. Do you understand?"
"Yes, Dad, I understand."
"So do I, Sir."
"What did you call me, Brad?" my father asked.
"I . . . I mean, so do I, Dad."
"That's more like it. Now let's go see your brother.
Dr. Norris led John and
Lorraine Li into a small conference room on the fourth floor.
Peter's parents seemed removed from what was happening because all
they could think of was their son and his condition.
"Why don't you two sit down, and if you don't mind, I'll stand up." The Li's sat in separate chairs rather than on the small sofa.
"I know you want to know about Peter. Here's what we know at the moment. First, he is currently unconscious probably from a mixture of the anesthetic and the bad bump on the head. He had a compound fracture of his right femur, that's the thigh bone, which was why he was in surgery. That's been repaired.
"His right tibia was also broken as was his left radius. Most troublesome, however, is his concussion which seems to be a cause for his coma. We're currently working on that aspect of his condition.
"Additionally, he has injured some of his ribs, cracked them to be more accurate, but none are displaced.. He has lost blood from the fracture and also from a number of lacerations on the right side of his body. His face has a couple of shallow ones, but the worse was on his right buttocks.
"There may have been some damage to his teeth, although we haven't been able to fully evaluate that yet. There is no doubt that his body has suffered many bruises and he would be in considerable pain if not for the medications.
"Now, when I bring you in to see him, you must be prepared to see him in a condition which will probably shock you. But remember, he will heal quickly as he is young, and before we know it he will be up and about."
"But he's in a coma?" asked Lorraine.
"Yes, that's true, he is," Dr. Norris said.
John Li stood up and walked toward the door. He turned to Dr. Norris and said,
"I am going to see my son. I expect that you will take care of his coma immediately."
"But Mr. Li . . ."
Lorraine Li obediently followed her husband out of the room.
As we walked down the corridor
toward Chris Mason's room, I thought about my father's talk with us.
He had helped us a great deal. But more importantly, he made it
clear that he was Brad's and my dad. He was making us a family.
"Penny for your thoughts," said Brad.
"Just thinking about our dad making us into a family. I think it's wonderful," I told him.
"So do I."
"But what about your own family?"
"There's my mom and Chris. That's my other family."
"And your father?"
"No, I don't think so."
"That's not an answer."
"Because I can't trust him."
"I guess you have many good reasons for feeling that way."
"Yeah, I do. And didn't you have bad feelings about your dad, and not so long ago?"
"That's true. But he's changed. Don't you think your father could change, too? Don't you think that his response to Chris has been positive? Don't you think he accepts us as a couple? Hasn't his attitude about gays mellowed?"
"No, no, no, NO!"
"Is something wrong?" asked my father.
"Are you two having another fight?" he continued.
"No, Dad. I just asked Brad some questions and he answered me. The loud `no' was because he really wanted me to understand his position. That's all."
"Sorry if we disturbed you, Dad," said Brad.
By that time we were outside the door to Chris' room. We stopped for a moment. My dad put his arm around Brad and asked him,
"If you want some time alone with your brother, Jacob and I will wait," Dad said.
"Dad, I want Jacob with me, but I would like the two of us to have a few minutes alone with Chris. I want him to meet Jake, and there are some things I want to say about Jake that I want only Chris to hear. I hope you understand."
"I completely understand. Let me go in alone first to see if anyone else is there. If there are other visitors, I'll get them out so that you two can have your private time with Chris," Dad said as he entered the hospital room.
Brad was shaking a little and I took his hand in mine and brought it to my lips. I kissed it gently and looked at him. He smiled that smile and my heart skipped a beat or two and I knew that I would follow him to the moon or perhaps even into hell if he asked. I smiled.
"My Jake, my Jake," he murmured.
At that moment, the Masons and my dad came out of the room. Brad's mother hugged him, but his father stayed away, smiling a kind of sinister smile, at least that's what I thought.
"Don't tire him out, Brad," cautioned his mother.
"We won't," Brad replied.
"Brad, later today or better still, tomorrow after school, I want you to come with me and help me move some things. Can you do that?" asked Travis Mason.
"Sure, just let me know. Could you use Jake's help, too?"
"No, I only need you."
"We'll talk later at the Neilson's," Brad said.
The three adults walked away and Brad and I moved cautiously into the room.
Chris was lying in the bed which had the back raised so that he wasn't flat. His eyes were closed. He had a bit more color than when we had seen him earlier. Some of the machines had been removed, and with the exception of the IV line, his body was free of lines. He looked a little as if he had been in a good fight and had probably lost. Neither of us said anything moving to the side of the bed where there were no lines.
"Chris?" said Brad.
Chris opened his eyes and then smiled.
"It's you bro. Glad you came. Who's the dude with you?" Chris asked.
"We were here earlier, Chris, but you were still under medication. You looked like shit then, but now you almost look like yourself. Thank God," said Brad.
"Thanks, bro. But who's the cutie with you? I want a name and an address," he said with a laugh that suggested pain.
I was red faced and I was looking down at the floor. Brad put his arm around me and kissed me on the cheek. I looked up and he smiled at me. I melted.
"I bet this cutie is Jacob. Hmm, he is a sexy guy. I can see why you fell head-over-heels for him."
"Yeah, this is Jacob. I love him, Chris."
"And how does he feel about you?"
I looked straight at Chris, and without smiling, told him in a strong, steady voice,
"I love him! I love him!"
Chris smiled at me and reached out his hand. I went to him and took his hand in mine. He looked at me without saying anything for a few moments. Then he motioned for Brad to come to him, too. He took our hands and put them together with his.
"I want to thank you, Jacob, for loving my brother and for being here for him. I know that he loves you because he told me the day he met you, but he couldn't figure out how to tell you. Obviously he found a way, and that makes me happy. I hope that you can be as happy as Peter and I are.
"Oh, God, I am so worried about him. I swear to God that he's calling to me and I can't do anything about it. Do you know what's happening with him? Tell me if you do. Mom and Dad wouldn't say anything."
"Try to stay calm, Chris," I said as I stroked his hand. I could see the glistening of tears in his eyes, and then it was obvious that Brad was having some difficulty, too.
"Chris, we'll tell you everything we know, but that isn't much since they won't tell us anything because we are not family. His mom and dad are here. Dr. Norris was to tell them all about Peter. But if we find out anything, you'll be the first to know."
Chris smiled, then turned his head and let out some pent up emotions. His body shook as he sobbed. Brad reached down and hugged him and began to kiss his cheek. Now I had tears in my eyes. After a minute of two, Chris regained his composure, and spoke.
"I trust you to be straight with me. I just don't know about mom, but I'm certain about dad. Brad, don't let dad fool you. No matter what he says or how he acts he doesn't accept you or me because we're gay. And obviously he doesn't accept Peter or you Jacob. He'll want you to think that so he can lull you into letting down your guard. Then you'll be dead meat. He basically a bastard. Sometimes I think he has brainwashed mom, but then she seems more honest and caring. Just be careful."
I shuddered as I listen to Chris. I had been fooled, or was it that they couldn't accept a change in their father who for so long had been a homophobic bigot. I just remained silent, not relishing a debate with these two strong and certain Masons.
"I don't trust him, either, Chris, and I told Jacob that earlier. But Jake seems to be leaning toward accepting him as a changed man."
"Forgive me, Jacob, but you don't know our father. He'll cast me aside like an unwanted old shoe. Believe me, he'll do the same to Brad or worse. Be careful, Brad because I think he is capable of almost anything."
"You don't mean that he would get violent, do you?" I asked in astonishment.
"All I mean, Jacob, is that I wouldn't put anything past him. He's not to be trusted," cautioned Chris.
"Don't worry about that, Chris, as I don't trust him in the least. I have a place to live with Jake. His parents have invited me to live with them. I know that probably made dad furious, but I don't care. If I'm with Jake, then everything is good," Brad said.
"Jacob, I don't suppose that your parents have room for two convalescing gay guys, do you?" Chris asked.
"Strange that you should ask that. We were going to invite you and Peter down for Thanksgiving and then for your Christmas break. I think we can manage to help you out. But what about your place in Gainesville?" I said.
"Haven't thought about that. We may have to ask you two to go up and close it up for a while; I'll discuss it with Peter. His parents might want him at home, too. And he will only go there if I go with him. We'll have to wait and see."
"Chris, it would be wonderful to have you guys with us at the Neilsons. Mr. and Mrs. Neilson are super people, and Sadie, she's my girl. She liked me immediately, Chris; can you believe that. She said I made Jake happy."
"And she was right, Sweetheart, happier than I have ever been in my life," I added.
"Let's hope it all works out. I'm getting a little tired. I think I might like a little nap. Why don't you two sit here and keep me company. If you start fooling around, don't get too hot, `cause this ain't the place for romance."
Chris closed his eyes and in a short time he was asleep. Brad sat in one of the straight chairs and I sat in his lap. We kissed deeply, and I could feel my lover's body relax. I wanted him so much at that moment, that I knew in every fiber of my body that I could never find, not in this wide world, anyone who I would love as much as I loved Brad. I rested my head on his shoulder and we sat like that while the injured Chris slept.
When Chris's nurse came in to check on him, she smiled at the two of us, and told us,
"There are some folks headed here. I thought you might want to know."
"Thanks," I said.
We separated and each took a chair. It wasn't long before the Masons, my parents, and Sadie came into the room. I did notice that Mr. Mason did not look directly into my eyes, and Brad quickly suggested that we leave so that there was room for everyone else. I gave Diane and my dad a hug, and kissed Sadie on the cheek. Brad followed suit. Then he hugged his mom, but passed his dad without acknowledgment. Together we left the room.
Not far down the hall, John and
Lorraine Li were about to see their son for the first time. Dr.
Norris was with them, but he did not go into the room.
Lorraine Li gasped when she saw her son. John Li, always stoic and in control, raised his hand to his mouth to block his own gasp, but he could not stop the tears from running down his face. They stood together, seemingly small, and suddenly holding each other, as they realized the terrible hurt that their only son had received.
They moved to the young man lying in the bed who showed no sense of whom or where he was. His body seemed to have crumbled, and it was torn and abrated. There were bandages, and IV's and wires and machines. A breathing tube came out of his throat and even his eyes had been glossed by some lubricant.
Finally, Lorraine Li, gave in. Her sobs came from her soul, and she sank to the floor, her head resting on her son's bed. She wept as only a mother can weep over the body of a child. John Li, also, had knelt, and with gentleness stroked the hand of his son. Eventually, the tears that had been running down his face were joined by stifled sobs as he comprehended the severity of Peter's condition.
"We must go to the chapel and pray," Lorraine said.
"Yes," the devastated father replied.
In the dim light of that hospital, and in the presence of their son, John and Lorraine Li realized that this was the closest they had ever been. They both understood that their love for each other would get them through this terrible time.
John Li helped Lorraine to her feet. They both kissed their son on his forehead, and wearing their best appearance of control and dignity, they left the room for the chapel. There it would be their humbleness and sincerity that a loving God would hear and to which He would respond.
"Sometimes you don't know what your have until you don't have it."
"Memory is how we keep those we love."
To be continued...
"The measure of love is to love
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