I was lusting for my hour with Dr. Walker, and so it seemed like Wednesday was never going to come. It had only been a few days since my mother made the appointment, but it felt like an eternity, mostly because I had my thoughts on a Colt, Scott, and Ashton foursome. I'm sure it's obvious from anyone who's reading this that I was really fucked up, unless you're looking forward to reading about a foursome. But after meeting with Dr. Walker, I soon realized that life isn't that simple. My life felt like all my knots were unraveling at a time when it seemed like they should all be tightening. I think when your life's falling apart, you get the feeling you're not tied down to anything. I think the knots in my life gave me comfort. I was familiar with them.
I was a little embarrassed when I stepped into Dr. Walker's outer office and met his secretary, who was never there when we came in on Saturday. She informed Dr. Walker I was there and asked me to sit. I leaned my elbows on my knees, fidgeted, played with my fingers, and looked up at the secretary every now and then. She gave me an understanding smile. Dr. Walker finally came out of his office with a boy who looked like he might have been thirteen or fourteen. He was cute, but I only gave him a quick glance because I didn't want to embarrass him. He nodded at the secretary as Dr. Walker walked him to the door. "See you next week, Mark."
Mark lowered his head and mumbled, "Yeah. Thanks, Dr. Walker."
Dr. Walker turned to me and stuck out his hand. "Andy, great to see you. You're looking well."
I figured he was just bullshitting me because I sure didn't think or feel like I looked well. "Thanks, Doc," I said as I headed into his office. It was still the same. "Doc, don't you ever move things around in this place?"
"No, Andy, patients like the familiar."
"I know what you mean. You even have two glasses of water on the table, as usual."
He pointed at the chair to the left of his. We both sat. "Andy, why are you here?"
"You don't waste any time, do you?"
"Andy, you know I'm the one who asks the questions, but to answer your question, I like to get to the point."
"You're right there."
"So what's up, Andy?"
I took a sip of water. "Doc, if I knew, I wouldn't be here."
"Your mom told me you were kind of at loose ends."
"I think she meant it was like you were walking around with your shoelaces untied. She was worried you might trip."
Walker smiled. "I told you, Andy, I ask the questions."
"So fire away, Doc."
He took a sip of water and set the glass down. "Why are you here? Did something happen?"
I didn't answer at first, but he waited. "I'm lost, Doc. It's like I'm wandering around in my life with nowhere to go. I don't know what to do with myself. I have all these desires and sexual fantasies. I feel like I'm being torn apart and don't know how to stop it. I'm gay, Doc, and the guy I love doesn't want me. I thought I could handle it, but now I have my eye on every gay hot looking guy. I even gave the kid leaving your office a look. He's cute."
"Is it only because of Matt?"
"I don't know, Doc. He makes me angry. We've talked about it, but he's determined to date Megan. I suppose I'm jealous too."
"Do you want to punish him?"
"Maybe. I'm not sure. But now that I think about it, I believe I do. It's just that I'm afraid that if I do what I want to do to punish him, he'll hate me."
"What is it you want to do?"
I laid back in my chair, and looked up at the ceiling. "Have sex with this group of guys."
"How would that punish him?"
"Doc, I honestly don't know. It would get his attention and maybe make him jealous."
"Has he been ignoring you?"
I sat up and took another sip of water. "No. We get together. We went out and threw the football the other day. We talk on the phone and get together at each other's houses. Everything is the same except for the fact he's dating a girl."
"And you want to punish him for that?"
"I don't really know, Doc."
"Could it be that you're trying to justify having sex with these other guys?"
I leaned on my elbows. "Maybe. But I wouldn't even be thinking about it if we were together."
"Are you sure about that?"
"Uh...Good question, Doc. I talked to Matt about us having sex with other guys. I met these two hot guys and they're game. But Matt said no, and now he's with a girl, and I'm not sure what to do."
"Is that why you're here?"
"If I'm going to be honest, I think the reason I'm here is that I'm hoping you'll say it's okay to have sex with these other guys."
He patted me on the knee. "Did you really expect me to say it's okay?"
"No, Doc. But a guy can hope."
"So you must be here for another reason."
"If I am, I don't know what it is."
"Let's see if I can help. Do you love Matt?"
"So if you love someone, is it normal to do something that you know will hurt them?"
"No, but he's dating Megan, and he knows it hurts me."
"Why is he dating Megan?"
"He wants to see if maybe he likes girls. But it doesn't make any sense. He's gay. He and I have been having all kinds of gay sex for years. He's never had sex with a girl."
"And you don't want him to have sex with a girl?"
I slid to the end of the chair. "I don't really know, Doc. All I know is the other day I felt lost. I didn't want to do anything. Nothing interested me. Nothing, not even the start of football or even watching porn. Nothing. I think I got more joy out of watching baseball with my dad than anything else in a long time."
Doc cleared his throat. "Do you think that maybe you've been looking in the wrong places for happiness and joy?"
"I don't follow."
"Have you had sex with these other boys before?"
"Did it make you feel happy?"
"For a time. And then it vanished." I snapped my finger. "Just like that."
He leaned forward. "Let me pose a question. Let's say you were able to have sex every day with whomever you wanted for the next sixty days. Do you think you would be happier?"
"Hmm. Good question, Doc. I'd be less horny, that's for sure."
"That wasn't my question. My question was: Would you be happier?"
"I...I don't t know. Actually, I do know. I used to think having a lot of sex would make me happy, but it doesn't. It's special when I'm with Matt. I'm happy when I'm with him."
"Can't you just be happy having Matt as a friend? Do you have to have sex?"
"That's not fair, Doc. You asked two questions." I laughed, and to his surprise, I slapped him lightly on the knee. "I am happy with Matt being my friend. But, Doc, you're a married man; you know sex with someone you love makes everything better."
"I can't argue with that. But is having sex with Matt a requirement for you to love each other?"
"Damn, Doc. Ease up."
"Don't evade the question, Andy."
"You know what, it never was until we had sex. Then it became important. Hell, that first week we fucked like bunnies. Pardon my French."
"It's a contradiction, Doc. Dillon had just broken my heart, and I was close to suicide, but Matt loved me so much that he gave up his virginity to me and made me feel so loved that yes, I was happy."
Doc gave me a serious look. "So was it the sex or the fact he loved you so much he gave you his virginity to save your life?"
I paused. "Both, I think."
"Do you think Matt would love you less if you had sex with these other boys?"
"No. He told me he loves me unconditionally."
"Do you believe him?"
"To be honest, I'm not sure."
"I'm not sure I am able to love him unconditionally. So how could he love me unconditionally?"
Doc scooted back in his chair and took another sip of water. "So is this more about you or about him?"
I squirmed in my chair. "Good question, Doc. Maybe it's about me. I hadn't thought of that."
"If I understand you correctly, Matt said he will love you no matter what you do. So if you have sex with these other boys, he'll still love you, right?"
"Yes, and now that I think of it, it wouldn't be a way of punishing him like I thought. But there's this other boy that just broke up with his boyfriend, and if I went after him, it would test Matt's unconditional love."
"So you're saying Matt's love has conditions?"
"Uh...Uh...he never said there were conditions."
"So would he quit loving you or just be angry with you?"
"Hmm. Be angry. He'd still love me."
Doc let out a big breath. "So let me ask you: Is there anything you could do that would cause Matt to quit loving you? Let's say, just as an example: Would he still love you if you went out with Megan? Would he still love you if you got drunk, went to Megan's house, and called her a whore and threatened to punish her if she kept going out with Matt? Or to take it a step further: You force Megan into your car, get into an accident, and she dies. Would he still love you?"
"Doc, that's a stretch."
"I know. That's why I asked. Unconditional love means there are no exceptions."
"Shit, Doc. I don't know. I never thought of any of those things. It's scary to think about."
"Answer the question, Andy."
"I'd never do anything like that. But if I did, I'm not sure. I don't know what he'd do. It would sure test his love."
"Yes or no. Do you think he would still love you?"
"I...I think so. That's the way Matt is. He and I have done some crazy shit, but he's loyal and a lot stronger than I am. He says he wants to find himself and see if he likes girls. I think it's crazy and it hurts, but you're right, Doc. My love has conditions. Thomas, one of our friends, just let his boyfriend go because his boyfriend wanted to see if he liked girls too, and he wanted to have sex with other guys. That's what I call love. Matt has never been my boyfriend. I feel like he's deserting me and betraying me. Yet, when I see what Thomas did, I respect him for it. Maybe I need to be more like Thomas."
"I think you're right." He took another sip of water. "Before our time is up, we need to talk more about happiness. What do you think you need to do to be happy?"
"If I knew, Doc, I wouldn't be here."
"Good point. Let me summarize where we are. You said that having as much sex as you wanted for 60 days straight wouldn't make you happy. You would be happy if Matt was your boyfriend. You think that Matt is capable of loving you unconditionally, but you aren't sure about your ability to love him unconditionally. You are angry with him and want to punish him, but you realize if Matt loves you unconditionally, there isn't much you can do to effectively punish him. Do you agree?"
"Yes, Doc. That's about all of it."
"So forget about Matt and all the sexcapades. Think about what you could do to make yourself happy. For instance, you mentioned watching baseball with your dad. What else?"
"Sorry, Doc, I don't know."
"You said football is starting. How about giving football one hundred percent of your time and effort, along with school of course. How about if you set a goal to getting a starting position on the football team and to get all A's in your classes? How about you set a regular time to spend with your dad to watch baseball or do something together. And of course, continue to spend time with Matt, be happy for him, and respect him for his willingness to examine his life and love you unconditionally."
"Sounds boring, Doc."
"Yes, but you know what, Andy, you don't get anything for nothing. So if you want to be happy you have to work at it. You have to earn happiness. Do you think you'd be happy if you worked hard and got a starting spot in football?"
"Yeah. It would make me very happy. Matt and I would be playing together and not the kind of playing we're used to do."
"How would you feel if you improved your grades?"
"I'd feel better. My parents would be proud. I'd be proud."
"And if you spent more time with your dad?"
"He'd be happy, and I think I'd be happy. My parents love me. I know because after everything Matt and I did, they forgave me. They listen when I talk to them. I didn't feel I could talk to them about this stuff though. "
"That's understandable. So this is what I suggest: Instead of focusing on all the sex you'd like to have, focus on these other things. No sex. Give it two weeks. Then we'll meet again. Do we have a deal?"
I didn't say anything at first because I wasn't sure if I could keep my word. "Doc, it's going to be tough, but I'll do it. I give you my word."
He held out his hand, and I shook it. He said, "Deal."
"Deal," I said. And like the boy before me, I headed out of Dr. Walker's office only to find another boy about my age waiting to see him.
Andy went to see Dr. Walker that Wednesday, and Megan had cheerleader tryouts. So I laid on my bed and finished reading Deadline. As you know from my previous comments, Ben is eighteen and has chosen not to tell anyone that he has a year to live. This is a good example of a decision that has consequences. Not just for Ben, but for his brother, Cody, who is a year younger, but in the same class as Ben. Cody is the starting quarterback and about fifty pounds heavier than Ben, who he calls his "little big bro." His parents wouldn't know he was going to die until he got too sick. To make matters worse, he and Dallas Suzuki fall in love.
I'm reading about this cast of characters and feel the pain they'll experience when they find out Ben's dying. Ben wants to play football and knows he wouldn't be allowed to play if he told them he was dying, so he keeps it a secret. He's fearless on the football field, and because one of the defensive players gets hurt, Ben becomes a starter, making tackles that everyone figures would kill "little big bro." But he never gets hurt.
Ben decides to give his life some meaning, so he helps an old drunk get sober, tries to get the small conservative town to name a street after Malcolm X, and continues to love Dallas Suzuki even after she tells him that the little boy he thought was her brother, is actually her son, the result of her uncle raping her. He's a pain in the ass in his history class. He ignores his teacher's threats to flunk him for pursuing the Malcolm X street name by conducting a survey that will reveal the town's prejudices. He's dying, so what difference will it make?
These are the kind of things I had in mind when I talked about changing my life and being more like Martin Luther King and the others. No, I wasn't thinking I'd do something big. It's like Dr. King said: "If you're going to be a janitor, be the best janitor you can be. If you're going to be a teacher, be the best teacher you can be." For me it was, if I'm going to be a football player, be the best I can be. If I'm going to be a friend, be the best friend I can be. If I'm a student, then be the best student I can be. It meant making a positive difference in small ways every day. That's what Ben did because he knew he was going to die. But we are all going to die and we don't know when, so we should live our lives like we're going to die tomorrow.
Ben carries on these dream conversations with Jesus, who he calls Hey-Soos. Hey-Soos reminded me of Dr. Walker.
In the end of course, he has to tell his family, Dallas, his coach, and the whole school that he's dying. His last words are about telling the truth. He says, "...Something you learn on the last day of your life is as important as something you learn on the first day of grade school..."
I enjoyed this book as much the second time around as I did the first. I'm not dying, and I have my whole life ahead of me. Ben knew when he was going to die, but Megan's brother had no idea he was going to die so young. So who knows? Maybe we should live our lives like we're going to die tomorrow. Not the eat, drink, and be merry kind of living, but like Ben, trying to make a positive difference while we're still alive. You never know how a story will affect you, but for me, Deadline made me want to dedicate my life to something important. I had no idea what it would be, but I hoped and prayed that I would find it soon.
True happiness comes from the joy of deeds well done, the zest of creating things new. - Antoine de Saint-Exupery
The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand. - Vince Lombardi
I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself. For I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition. - Martha Washington
Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions. - Dalai Lama
If you like this story, please write a review, click like, and follow me. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org I answer all emails.
I'd like to thank Lisa for taking the time to edit Knots 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. As the author, I take final responsibility for all parts of the story, including any errors.
This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author's imagination and are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events or locales, is purely coincidental and no slanderous intent is implied.