The following is a work of fiction. The story may contain profanity and references to gay sex. Any relation to similar events or persons, fiction or real, is completely fortuitous. If such content offends you please leave now. The author retains all rights to the story. Do not copy or use without written authority from the author. Write Bobby at email@example.com with your comments.
Mad World 14
The name on the screen kept me frozen in place. A deafening string of thuds sounded from my chest. The only other time I've received a phone call from her bore terrible news. What could it be this time?
"Hello?" I answered weakly.
"Y . . . yes,"
"How are you doing?"
"I'm doing well, thanks. Yourself?"
"Same," Janet replied. "So, um, I'm packing Jacob's things away for storage and I was wondering if maybe you'd like anything of his?"
"You . . . You're just now putting his things in storage?"
"Well, yes. It was too difficult for anyone to come in here for a while. Now I feel at peace enough to get things done."
"Okay, I'll be over in a few minutes. Thanks for calling, Janet. I appreciate that." I was truly grateful. We parted on humane terms after the funeral, but never did I think she'd talk to me again, much less make the effort to call me.
"All right. Bye."
Brian was sound asleep on the couch. It being only ten he won't be awake until at least twelve since he stays up so God damn late. I should be home in plenty of time before that happens. Hopefully I'll be able to pull myself together prior to his awakening as well. This little trip is going to dry my heart up.
Arriving at Jacob's house felt so weird. I've only actually been here a few times. And now I get to do it while he's not even alive. Such a great feeling . . .
I knocked on the door, nervously waiting for his mother to answer. Only one car's in the driveway so I'm assuming that means his dad isn't home. I don't know if his dad is at peace with what his son secretly was. Jacob's dead, though. You'd think his dad would be okay with the fact his son was gay.
The door opened presenting a woman standing behind it who looked perfectly content. Her eyes weren't bloodshot and her lips were just barely curled upwards. I figured she'd be the slightest bit emotional cleaning out Jacob's room.
"Hi, Michael. Come on in." she said politely. "Do you want anything to drink?"
"No, thank you." I walked inside feeling an eerie coldness. The house seems lifeless without Jacob here. I can sense the sorrow that is held within the walls.
"I'll show you to his room."
"Oh, I know where it's at." Shit.
Janet looked me over. "You've been here before?"
Realizing I was caught anyways, I figured the truth wouldn't hurt. "Uh, yeah. A few times when you and your husband weren't home, and after the funeral I snuck up there to take a look around."
"Okay then. I'll give you a few minutes alone." She went into the kitchen without another word.
I went upstairs to Jacob's bedroom. Everything was exactly the same as when I saw it after the funeral. His bed was still messy. School papers were still scattered about on his desk. Dirty boxers sat near the hamper next to the door. The shoes he adored were still waiting for their next adventure. I felt the tears flushing in my eyes, but they would have to wait. The chill that cursed me when first entering the house was even stronger in his bedroom.
I can't think of anything specific that I'd like of his. If it were possible I'd take his entire bedroom. But that's obviously very unrealistic. Janet would surely want some of his belongings, too. His vampire stuff I'll definitely take. His books, calendars, posters, all will be in my possession. That was something he was very passionate about. I'll take some of his clothes, especially the vampire clothing. I'll take his cologne, too. He always smelt so delicious.
Something came over me. I stopped collecting items to take home and stepped over to the bed. The chills were intense. Every follicle of hair on my arms and legs was standing at attention. I got down on both knees and deeply inhaled the scent on his pillow. So many memories flashed through my mind. Our first hug, our first kiss, our first sexual encounter. It seems like so long ago, but in reality it was only a matter of months ago. The tears couldn't be held back any longer. I slid from the side of the bed and sat kneeling. Jacob was the sweetest, most amazing person I've ever known. And now he's gone because of fear, because of the unknown. He should've just told his parents. He was eighteen. If they kicked him out he knew he could've lived with me. He knew that even before I asked him to move in. I even told him that the night . . . the night before he took his life. I told him I wanted him to move in with me. He was ecstatic about moving in. Nothing makes sense anymore. I picked myself up and carried on with the gathering. I had almost everything I wanted.
Janet was washing dishes when I went downstairs with the first bit of items. She didn't hear me come down.
"Janet," I said softly so not to spook her.
"Oh, are you done?" Now her eyes were red.
"Yeah, um, did you want to see any of it?"
"No, no, that's all right."
I nodded, then went out to my truck and unloaded my arms. Two more trips were required to put everything in the truck. Once I was finished, Janet said she wanted to talk a little before we parted ways.
"How's your husband doing?" I asked her, leaning against a countertop. She was drying the washed dishes.
"He's doing just as well as I am. He tries to hide his emotions, but when you know someone long enough it's easy to tell when they're troubled."
"Well, time heals wounds. Someday you both will be okay again."
"Yes, we will be. You said you're doing okay?"
"Ups and downs come and go."
"Sometimes I wake up in the morning and still go into his room thinking he needs to be woken up for school." She sniffled softly, keeping her back facing me. "Did you find everything you want?"
"Yeah, and again I really appreciate the call. To be honest I was very surprised."
"I just figured that if you two were together for so long you deserved things of his. It's funny, too, because he often mentioned you. Not in the right way obviously, but he'd say he was going to spend time with Grace and Michael, or Angela and Michael. I never suspected."
A grin came to my face. "He was a crafty guy. That's one of the things I loved about him . . ." I suddenly realized what I said. Janet isn't fully okay with Jacob being gay. That was so stupid and insensitive of me. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that."
She turned around. "No, it's fine. I remember what I told you at the funeral, that accepting him probably would've been impossible. But it's clear to me now that in the long run I would've accepted the truth. I just wish he would've given me the chance. For him to kill himself because of what he thought we would do . . ."
This was an opportunity to tell her about the note, but then I really thought about it. She doesn't need to be burdened with such a devastating reality. She's got enough to worry about without the added stress of knowing someone was blackmailing her son.
I didn't know what to say to make her feel better. In truth, she could've talked with Jacob about his life. He told me that although him and his parents were on good terms they never really just talked. The only thing that kept him from telling them was their strict following of Catholicism. His father often degraded things that weren't in tight bonds with the church. Janet on the other hand was a strict follower, but not such a totalitarian as her husband. So, I did the only thing I could do. Lie.
"You can't blame yourself, Janet." Little white lies do little harm anyhow. "That will lead you down a dark path. Believe me."
"You've blamed yourself?" "Do you remember at the funeral I said our two year anniversary had just passed? Well, what I didn't say was that I proposed to him and he said yes. We had plans to move in together and everything."
Janet let tears slither down her cheeks. She covered her mouth and wept. I didn't know what to do. Are those good tears or bad tears?
"You . . . You're my son-in-law?"
"I would've been."
"Michael, that . . . Oh, my God . . ."
"I wish this news could've been under different circumstances."
"My boy . . . engaged. I don't even know what to say." She rubbed her temple, hovering into the dining room to sit down. "When . . . When were you planning on marrying?"
"No date was set."
"And you two were planning on moving in together? When?"
"I asked him to move in with me that Saturday. We were planning on him moving in at least before graduation." This line of conversation brought a new question in my mind. "I'm so curious about something. If you had found out about Jacob and I dating prior to his eighteenth birthday, would you have turned me in to the police?"
"How old are you?"
"Twenty-one now, but when we met I was nineteen."
"So he would've been sixteen." She said absentmindedly as if to herself. "Please don't hate me."
I was right to live in fear when we first had sex then. Although the honesty is appreciated it still freaks me out at how close I came to going to jail. The sex was consensual, yeah, but that doesn't matter in a court. Trust me. I've checked up on the consequences of underage dating and the law I've got to say is stupid. But enough of that. The past is the past and it has to stay that way.
"Well, thank God things didn't turn sour. Of course, if they did turn sour, then we might not have been in this kind of situation right now. Hm."
Would the note sent to Jacob still have been written had we not made it for two years? Assuming that Grace is the mystery writer, then the jealousy or rage or whatever she feels would be absent. Such a dangerous question. Would Jacob have been better off without me?
"He was better with you, Michael. Now that I think about it he was always so happy when I'd get home. He had this light about him. The light wasn't on before sixteen years old. I just thought he had a girlfriend or was having an easier time in school. I guess I was kind of right." She smiled playfully.
"Thanks. I needed to hear that." Wiping my eyes I said. "Um, my cousin is over and I'd hate for him to wake up to an empty house. I really should be leaving."
"You take care of yourself, Michael. You're a good guy." Janet walked me to the door. Unsure of what to do next, instinct took over. I leaned in and gave her a hug.
"If you ever need anything don't hesitate to call me. Jacob loved you guys so much. He talked about you a lot."
"Oh, I'm sure he did."
I chuckled. "In good ways, too."
Walking to the truck after she shut the door I saw Tammy pulling into her driveway. She got out of her car and looked down the street, raising a hand and smiling. Too nervous to do anything else I mirrored her motion. She went inside without any further communication. Here's my chance. I'm at Jacob's house. The note's in the truck. I can confront Tammy. I have to be sure of what Jacob meant when he wrote she knows.
I drove the incredibly short distance, but Janet need not be asking questions. Knowing the truth behind the suicide would destroy her. I went up to Tammy's front door and knocked hard.
"What can I do for you, Michael?" she answered cheerfully.
"Several weeks ago I was dropping Jacob off around the corner. Did you see us kiss?"
Tammy looked taken aback, either by my directness or the question itself. Probably the directness because no one really confronts her about anything. Not a lot of people have enough nerve to do so. The intimidation could just be a fašade, though. She could be the sweetest middle-aged woman. Or not.
"Yes," Finally she answered. "I saw you two kiss. Is there a reason you came over to ask?"
I shoved the note at her. "Did you write this note to him?"
She took the note from me and then looked me over. "No. How could you think I would write such a pathetic excuse of a note?"
"Oh, cut the crap, Tammy. You know damn well why I'd choose you out of all other she's in the city." I was already becoming aggravated. Not good.
"Jacob kept a journal. Everything that happened to him went straight into history. He wrote that someone saw me kiss him. The only person he'd be worried about seeing us is you."
"You're the biggest gossiper in the tri-state area! Stop playing stupid. Now did you or did you not write that damn note!?" My face was flush with anger. The clouds were having little affect trying to cool me. I was becoming quite heated.
Her eyes squinted, lips tight. "How dare you accuse me of this. What proof do you have? Huh? A journal entry? Here's a wakeup call for you, Michael. Check the entry after that day. See what Jacob wrote about in that one. When you do, I'll be here waiting for an apology. Have a good day." Then she slammed the door in my face.
Oh no . . . If I have to come and apologize to Tammy Weatherford the world must be ending. I raced back home to check the journal for the truth. Am I really that stupid that I missed an exonerating entry? Please . . . No! Anything but an apology! Brian was playing video games when I entered the condo. A bowl of soggy cereal rested next to his knee, Jasper next to the other.
"Hey, where were you?" he asked, not breaking his focus from the game.
"I had some errands to run. Have you been up long?" I didn't feel like small talk, but not wanting to be rude I continued.
"Not too long. Maybe twenty minutes."
"Oh, well good." I released a breath. "Well, I have to do something really quick so how about when I'm done you whip my ass at some games, huh?"
"Pfft, I'll clobber your ass. Stomp it in the ground. Run it over with your truck."
"Have you given that much thought?" I asked, eyebrow cocked.
He laughed evilly. "Not really."
Jasper scurried into the office behind me, chirping for attention. I picked him up and placed him on my shoulder. Jacob's journal was kept in a locked drawer. Don't even ask why I keep it there. It just feels extra safe. I flipped towards the back of the book and found the entry where he refers to she. And the next page . . .
April 12 2011
Well I had the strangest experience today. I bonded with Tammy. Like seriously bonded. We talked for at least an hour about so much stuff. The only reason I went over there, though, was to make sure my secret would be kept safe. I told her the consequences that would happen if my parents found out about me being gay and the extreme consequences they'd put Michael through. Tammy swore she wouldn't tell them or anyone else for that matter. Oddly enough I believed her. We learned about each other. I didn't even know she had kids. Two sons. They moved out when I was really young and I guess they visit occasionally. She showed me pictures and I'm not gonna lie they are hot. Not Michael hot, but still hot. Never would've thought such hot guys could come out of Tammy. Speaking of Michael last weekend was so amazing. I don't even know how to describe it. Just know that it was indescribable. The countdown to our two years has begun. Only like a week and a half
left I think. I'm still trying to figure out what he has planned. I know it's something big because he's hardly said a word about the anniversary itself. Haha he's such a bad secret keeper. Maybe I can work it out of him somehow.........
Well I had the strangest experience today. I bonded with Tammy. Like seriously bonded. We talked for at least an hour about so much stuff. The only reason I went over there, though, was to make sure my secret would be kept safe. I told her the consequences that would happen if my parents found out about me being gay and the extreme consequences they'd put Michael through. Tammy swore she wouldn't tell them or anyone else for that matter. Oddly enough I believed her. We learned about each other. I didn't even know she had kids. Two sons. They moved out when I was really young and I guess they visit occasionally. She showed me pictures and I'm not gonna lie they are hot. Not Michael hot, but still hot. Never would've thought such hot guys could come out of Tammy. Speaking of Michael last weekend was so amazing. I don't even know how to describe it. Just know that it was indescribable. The countdown to our two years has begun. Only like a week and a half left I think. I'm still trying to figure out what he has planned. I know it's something big because he's hardly said a word about the anniversary itself. Haha he's such a bad secret keeper. Maybe I can work it out of him somehow.........
Son of a bitch. It couldn't have been Tammy who wrote the note then. She's . . . a friend. Oh God damn it. Now I have to go apologize for being a dick. Ugh. Not today. I'm tired and emotionally drained. She can wait until tomorrow for the fucking apology.
A few minutes later I was back out with Brian getting my ass handed to me at some shooting game. I've grown slightly better since first starting out in this game a year ago, but Brian is one of a kind. He never lets me win, never lets me score. On one game his score was seventy to thirteen. Please tell me that isn't right. Seventy to thirteen. When I'd score one point he'd turn around and score a few himself. That kid sometimes. While we were playing my phone alerted me of a severe weather alert. According to the app, a snowstorm is supposed to hit around eight o'clock tonight. Doesn't surprise me, though. We have our most amazing weather coming out of winter heading into spring. Weather captivates me. There's nothing better than sitting around doing some paperwork while listening to the rain pelt against the patio and being flashed with brilliant bursts of white light all the while being reminded of the storm with the roar of thunder following each burst. Poor Jacob, though. For when the storms would occur I'd have the patio door slid open with only the screen protecting us from the elements. He hated that. Hm, maybe it wasn't the storms that captivated me so. Maybe it was what the storms did for me. They brought Jacob into my arms without fail. Well, I guess it could be both, right? It doesn't have to be one or the other. Snow is a less common occurrence than rain, but when it does snow it leaves a thick blanket of the powdery, white goodness.
Around dinner time Brian suggested we go rent a movie, but I reminded him we could just order one through Pay Per View. He relented saying he really just wanted ice cream. Luckily for him I have a little bit of cookies and cream left in the freezer. Dinner was our first step, though. My cabinets and refrigerator are low in food. Looks like another trip to the store soon. We ate the last frozen pizza, and I pulled out some frozen chicken breasts to thaw out overnight. I looked into the living room at Brian playing with Jasper. Yesterday when he came over he was surprised to find the caged bird. He never knew I was an animal person. The one thing he never asked about was Collin, and thank God. What would I tell him? Collin ran away from me for a reason unknown?
The snow storm hit around the time that was predicted. It wasn't that spectacular, just a thin layer of powder, but when we wake up tomorrow I'm sure there will be three or four more layers. I hope Collin is staying warm . . .
The next day was much like the previous with the exclusion of Janet and Tammy. She'll still have to wait for that apology at least until Brian leaves. I did manage to do a few productive things today like clean the bathrooms and kitchen, vacuum the small area upstairs and the living room. I of course had to vacuum around Brian as he wouldn't budge. Jasper didn't like the noise so he was kept safely locked in his cage until I was done cleaning entirely. Snow still fell from the sky adding to the extra layers that I expected to be laid during our sleep. A view of the white wonderland stretched for miles from my patio. Brian was stoked about the snow saying he could get in a few boarding sessions with his dad. I've never been a boarder or a skier. For some reason my butt seemed to be magnetized and always pulled me down into the snow.
"When am I taking you home, Brian? It's getting late and you have school tomorrow." I said at about eight that night. Mondays are a pain in the ass for high school students, and middle school students, but even if Monday was cancelled as an official day Tuesday would be the beginning of the week and the kids would still bitch about it.
He stopped spooning himself macaroni and cheese, looking up at me with innocent eyes. "I forgot to tell you? Ugh, there's no school tomorrow. Some kind of district teacher thing or something. Is it okay if I stay another night?"
"Brian, you need to tell me this stuff, like, when you first come over. I'll have to take you home before work, I guess. That means you'll be waking up around ten." A groan only a teenager could make rumbled from this throat. "I know waking up and seeing sunlight is agony for you, but I have to be at work right after dropping you off."
"Very funny, Michael." Brian snickered. "We should totally bake a cake tonight. I know I have to be up early tomorrow, but come on. Sugar sounds awesome!"
"You haven't even finished dinner."
"I meant, like, after dinner, duh!"
"Aren't you gonna eat?"
"I'm not . . ." A soft rapping at the door interrupted me. "I'm not hungry." I finished saying while heading to see who on earth could dropping by.
When I opened the door a gust of freezing air burst into the room. But the air wasn't what gave me chills. It wasn't what made my heartbeat race. On the opposite side of the doorframe stood a boy whose arms were folded tightly against his chest. Snowflakes littered his hair leaving dark spots where they melted. A blue tint on his skin gave proof to just how cold he was. Against the howling of the wind I heard his teeth clattering. He was shivering so violently. Slowly, almost like fear prevented him from doing so, he looked up at me. His mouth opened, but no words, no sound came out. My heart was beating so fast I thought it was stuck on vibrate. I reached for him. He fell into my arms. His frail body was stiff as a corpse.
"You're . . . You're alive. You're okay." I sighed with the utmost relief. Where did the alive bit come from, though? I never thought he was dead. Not wanting him to be impaled by the wind any longer, I closed the door. "Brian, make some hot chocolate." I yelled in despair.
I carefully helped him into my bedroom. I shut the door behind us and started to strip his clothes off. In order to warm him up he'd need to be out of the wet clothing.
"I've missed you so much, Collin." The sadness was evident in my voice. "You can't imagine the hell I've been through since you ran away." I stood back up from dropping his pants. "You have so much explaining to do." Collin nodded weakly, staring down at his feet. The violent shivers were making it hard to take the clothes off.
"I-I-I-I-I-I . . ."
"Shh, don't speak." I pressed a finger against his blue lips. "We can talk later, or tomorrow. Whenever you're better to talk. Just know that . . . I've missed you so much. I don't know what happened to make you do this, but whatever it was please let us talk about it. I want to fix anything. You are so important to me . . ."
He suddenly threw himself onto me. His desperate sobs were wracked with grief. Fighting away my own tears, I rubbed his back softly. I still needed to get him warmed up. The making up would have to wait just a little while longer.
"Y-y-y-you . . ."
"No, quiet. We need to get you warm. We'll talk later, all right?" He barely nodded. Our bodies separated, and I removed his shirt. The shivering turned to an entirely new level. I helped him into bed and tucked the covers underneath him. Brian walked in with a mug of steaming cocoa complete with a bendy straw. Holding the cup near his mouth, I positioned the straw at Collin's lips. "Take a small sip." He let out a groan as the hot liquid traveled down his throat. He was still shivering like mad.
"Is he gonna be okay, Michael?" Brian asked in a hushed voice. Collin's eyes were already closed tight.
"He should be. The most important thing is for him to get warm." Although it came out as calm, it was anything but in my mind.
"Do you need me to do anything else?"
"No. Go eat the rest of your dinner."
I left the room behind him making my way to the thermostat. For Brian and me it's the perfect temperature in here, but Collin needs to warm up. Instead of relying on the automatic programming I simply turned the heater on. Next I went around the condo and closed every single vent except for the two in the bedroom. All the hot air will be concentrated in there now. I grabbed a few extra blankets from the office closet and headed back to Collin. The bed was shaking. Not wanting to disturb him, I carefully placed the blankets on top of the other covers. I shut the door quietly, and then crawled next to him. My body heat would also help.
"M-M-M-Michael, y-y-y-you don't nnnneed . . ."
"We will talk tomorrow, Collin. Please just rest and sleep. Everything is going to be okay."
A short silence was interrupted by his teeth banging against each other. He wasn't warming up like I thought he would. I guess I have to trust in time to warm him. The only thing left to do is just to wait. Surely between my body heat, layers of blankets, and the heater he'll be returning to normal in no time.
Collin soon fell asleep in my arms. The heat in the room was becoming unbearable for me, but I wasn't planning on leaving until he stopped shivering. The shaking was becoming less severe, but it was still too much. I couldn't tell in the dark whether the tint of blue was fading away, but hopefully his normal color is returning. What if he requires medical attention? How am I going to afford that? I'll have to withdraw from the transaction . . . Damn it! That'll still cost me fees to do so.
Calm down, Michael. I'm working myself up for no reason. Collin is safe now. He's snuggled up in my arms and has a roof over his head. Everything will be okay.
One can only hope.
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