One Person at a Time
Part II - Evan's Story - The Boy in the Park II
I was a bit surprised that Matt grabbed my hand and led me down the basement stairs where we stood outside a digitally locked door.
"This is actually my bedroom, my studio, my sanctuary."
"You're actually the first teenage boy that I've met that has a digitally locked door," I said light-heartedly.
He smiled, "Mom knows the code." He giggled, "besides, I only do it in the shower."
The door open and in we went. The room seemed huge. This was not your typical teen's room. It was a recording studio with a bed. The only poster was a large poster of John Lennon, which Matt said marked the almost invisible door to the bathroom.
"Wow! This is awesome. It must have cost a fortune," I mumbled.
"It did. That's why there is a lock on the door. There are advantages to being an only child. You are the first person other than Mom who has been in here. Back there is where I record my vocals," he said pointing to a small glassed in room. "It's totally soundproof and acoustically perfect no echoes or reverberations."
"My keyboards, guitars, banjo, oboe, flute, piccolo, and my babies," he said pointing to his drums. "Mr. Petri is a drummer, right?"
`Well yeah, it's been a while though but he's good."
"Did you know that Alex's favorite instrument was drums?"
"No, Alex played guitar. He loved the guitar."
"He loved everything but he loved the drums best, he loved Jon and he knew Jon loved the drums so he let Jon play the drums – it was a secret he kept from Jon. Alex was bisexual you know. It was a secret too."
"How do you know?" I said a bit testily.
"Long story but Mom will be talking Mr. Petri's ear off at least for the next hour I bet. When I was nine I met Alex's parents. We got along really well. They sort of let me adopt them as grandparents. When I was thirteen I went to spend the summer with them."
Matt and I had moved over to the bed lay down on the bed and patted the space next to him as he continued to talk.
"I had told them when I was twelve that I used to pretend that Alex had been my father. I still do," he nodded towards a photo of Alex and Lydia on his nightstand, "Do you remember that picture?"
"Yeah, the last time we all went to Cedar Point. Oh, man we had so much fun that day."
"Tell me about that day with Alex."
I started telling him about the day as I remembered it. I had been a terrific day. After about fifteen minutes I realized he had never told me how he knew the "secrets" were true.
"Wait a second!" I said, "You deliberately side tracked me!"
Matt burst into laughter.
I rolled over on him and had him pinned under me. "You know what I do to Jon when he does something like that?"
"Ewww! Gross I don't want to know about that," he laughed. I started tickling him and he started screaming and squirming and begging me to stop. I finally did. I think I was falling for this kid.
"Now finish your story young man."
"Grandpa Smith told me he had some private diaries of Alex's no one had ever read them but Alex had given them to his Dad, Grandpa Smith. Alex had told Grandpa that someday maybe someone would want to read them. Mom had never wanted to read them. So I was the first person to accept the offer. Everything at first was pretty boring but then I realized he had written three poems about Jon and only one poem about Mom."
"I got pissed! How could he love her so much and only write one poem about her. I hated Jon, I hated Alex. I threw the diary across the room and stormed out of the house. I walked for hours. I felt so cheated. I was pissed at him for not loving Mom more and not loving me more. My dad was flawed. Then it hit me. Alex wasn't even my dad. Since I was seven I had started wanting him to be my dad and by fourteen I had convinced myself that he was my dad. I started laughing and I think I laughed for an hour."
"I laughed even more when I realized that I had no idea where I was or where my Grandparents were. Luckily, Grandpa Smith had given me his cellphone earlier and I had it on me. He and I had a good chuckle about the whole thing. "
"I started reading Alex's diaries again but from a different viewpoint. I wanted to know him and understand him because some of the things he had said to my mom had helped her and she had rescued me when no one else did or could."
"Two pages after where I had stopped reading when I threw the book across the room he said, "I love Jon like he loves me. I know now that having sex with Jon would fulfill some need in me and that I would want to spend the rest of my life with him. And yet I cannot give up my love for Lydia . I want them both but know it would never work and I would break three hearts."
"Alex lived with his dilemma for months and months. He and Jon started the band. There was an entry. I love the drums so much but I know I could be better than Jon on the drums but Jon has a passion for drums that he has for no other instrument – I can be passionate about any instrument."
"I thought about that for a long time. I wondered if he had a pair of drumsticks. I asked Grandpa about them and he smiled, "I wondered if he said anything in there about these." He opened his desk drawer and pulled out a pair of drumsticks and handed them to me. I knew I could play any instrument but I knew I would find my passion in drums. Do you want to hear?"
"Sure!" I responded and with that he was up and off the bed and sitting behind the drums.
"Okay tell me when five minutes is up."
"Cuz if you don't I'll just keep going all night."
He started playing his drum solo.
I have lived with a professional drummer for twenty years. Jon was and still is an incredible drummer. I knew what to listen for and for five minutes I listened. There was not one flaw that I detected. This kid was a genius.
"You are phenomenal!" I was speechless.
"You're just being nice," he said shly.
"I am not! We'll get Jon down here and let him decide."
"No!" he said a little forcefully. "I mean no, I-I haven't finished my story," he sounded nervous and he couldn't look me in the eye.
Suddenly things didn't seem right. If Matt was nervous about school why was he talking to me and not his teacher?
"You know what Matt I believe in honesty. I don't care about the rest of your story or about Alex. Alex was my friend and you know what even if he had been gay I wouldn't have cared then or now. We were all friends and nothing you say is going to change that so I don't care what deep dark secrets he may have had!" I said angrily, "So why don't you just cut to the chase and tell me why I'm down here and your teacher is upstairs!"
His mouth moved but no sound came out tears began to flow. I couldn't handle it. I turned towards the door, "I'm going up stairs."
Noooo! Pleeeze! Don't go," he cried, "I'm-I'm so sorry I'm such a fuck up! I-I just wa-wanted to-to th-th-thank y-y-you."
"For what?" I said without turning back.
"For Alex! For Alex! He never got to thank you, Evan! He," Matt was sobbing, "he only had two regrets not learning drums better and not thanking you. I-I couldn't think of any way to tell you than this and I'm such a fuckup..."
I turned, walked back and wrapped my arms around him and led him to the bed. We lay down and he sobbed as I held him.
"Matt, it's okay. You're not the fuck up. I am."
Maybe it was because I wondered what on earth Alex wanted to thank me for. Maybe it was because I knew I was falling in love with this kid the same way Jon had fallen in love with Luc. Whichever it was I stayed and I comforted him. I found myself giving him gentle kisses on the top of his head and telling him everything was going to be okay. It seemed to work as his crying stopped and he snuggled into me.
"Your drum passion is that connected to his regret about not learning drums better?" I asked.
"No. I love drums and I understood his passion," he said softly.
"So, why did Alex regret not thanking me and for what?" I asked gently.
"For teaching him about true love. At first he didn't like you because he didn't understand you and Alex hated not understanding something. So he watched and observed you and one day he asked you why you loved Jon and you replied `Because I love me and Jon is a part of me.'"
"Alex wrote in his diary that he cried for three days because he realized he didn't like himself. That his intense-ness was merely his effort to change himself. He'd often boast about himself in order to prove to himself that he liked himself but it never worked."
"So he asked you `If you hated someone but wanted to love them what would you do?' Your reply was `I'd find one thing about them that I liked and I build on that and keep finding more and more things that I liked.'. He applied that to himself and it worked and during all this time he saw how you were always telling Jon how much you loved him and letting Jon tell you the same. You and Jon were always upfront and honest with each other."
"Alex started doing that with Mom – the last thing he wrote about your and Jon's love was: I used to think I could break their love. What an idiot I was – their love is too pure. Not death nor time can break that love. It is unbreakable as is my love for Lydia .'
He went silent but after a minute I heard a soft "Thank you, Evan for teaching Alex about love." Then a little sniff-sniff. I look at him a faint smile on his face.
"But why are you thanking me?"
"When I read Alex's journals I realized how much I took for granted. What you had done for Alex he regretted not thanking you for, Alex changed because of you being you and your love for Jon. He passed what he learned onto Mom and because of that she passed onto me that which saved my life."
"Evan! One day I met a boy in the park. He was so beautiful and being with him made me so happy and I made him happy. We had a great day. We promised we'd meet again when we were older. I loved him because he was a part of me. We kissed. I was so happy. For the first time in my life I loved and I was loved."
"My real dad saw me kiss the boy. I got severely beaten all my ribs broken, broken leg and both arms broken. My brother got beaten for trying to stop him and so was my mother. He got a gun. He said, `Queer boys like you don't deserve to have family." He murdered my brother, my mother and finally before he took his own life he said, "Nobody is gonna want to adopt or take in a faggot orphan."
"Look around here Evan! You said yourself I was the only teenager you know who has a security lock on his bedroom door! Evan, I'm probably the only teenage boy who has a recording studio in his bedroom!"
"I had to thank you! I had to! I have all this! I have the chance to find the boy from the park and find my love again! Because of you!"
He was sobbing again. This time I was sobbing too. We were holding on to each other like our lives depended on it and I think they did. We stayed like that for ages until Mattie started giggling.
I pulled back, "What?"
"We are so gay!"
That broke me up. That brought on a bout of laughing from us. Finally, we got ourselves under control and went upstairs.
As we were walking up Mattie stopped and turned to me, "I love you Evan." He kissed my cheek.
"I love you, Mattie," I said as I returned the kiss,
He stood there for a sec then spoke, "Mattie! Only you will get away with that."
"That's good Mattie, cuz I like it! Mattie! Mattie! Mattie! Mattie! Mattie! Mattie! Mattie!"
He ran on ahead of me and when I got there he had Jon in a hug. "Thank you, Mr. Petri, thank you! Thank you for your love, and letting me spend this time with your boyfriend."
"You are welcomed, but don't make a habit of it!" said Jon. Then he added, "I'm joking – feel free to borrow him anytime."
"Yikes! I just remembered something! Be right back!" said Mattie and off he ran and returned a minute later. Jon and I had migrated to the front door.
"Mr. Petri, this is for you. I did all the instruments and voices. I hope you like it – It took me half the summer to produce."
Jon accepted the gift and we left.