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Perry and Jesse:  The Incredibly Romantic (and slightly kinky) Adventures of Two Boys In Love  

Part V  Truths and Lies

Part V  Chapter 9(a)  Mostly Truths...

I woke up with a dull headache.  There was something wet and cold on my head and I reached up, quickly realizing that it was a washcloth draped over my forehead.  I was lying on the sofa in the den with my sneakered feet propped up on a pillow.  I must have fainted at the sight of my sweet angel--how embarrassing!

"Earth to Perry..." a raspy voice whispered close to my ear.

I turned my head, only to discover that made the ache worse.  But there was Jesse, kneeling by my side, an intensely worried look distorting his angelic features.

"This can't be Earth...It's got to be Heaven..." I mumbled with the best smile I could muster under the circumstances.

"Not quite!  You're mom's pretty upset!" Jesse whispered, but there was a tentative smile on his face.  He quickly grabbed my hand and gave it a squeeze. 

"He's awake, Mrs. Thompson!" Jesse called.

I struggled into a sitting position, trying to regain some sense of dignity after what must have been a ridiculous scene.
My mom came rushing in, her face contorted into an intense expression of stress and concern.  "Oh, Perry, dear.  Please lie down.  You're not well!"

"I'm...I'm okay..." I protested weakly.  I really wasn't, but I didn't want her pampering me in front of the others.  And 'others' there were!  I was surprised to see the parade of people pour into the den after my mom.  There was Mrs. Taylor and Miranda, and a tall, balding man with a bushy mustache that I didn't recognize but I guessed was Joe, the electrician.  That must have been his truck parked out in the driveway.  Then came Gary and Theresa.  Most of them had glasses of lemonade or something, so I knew my mom was being the good hostess as always.

Miranda was the first one to bound over to me.  "Oh, Perry!  My sweetiepie!  You gave us all such a fright!" she said, sounding like she was playing a role in a junior soap opera.  She wrapped her thin arms around my neck and gave me a loving squeeze.

"Rindy, leave the poor boy alone.  Can't you see he's not well?"  Mrs. Taylor pleaded with her daughter.

"It's okay--he's my boyfriend," Miranda explained to everyone as she patted me on the head like a dog.  "I can call him sweetiepie or love muffin or bugaboo or anything I want.  You got a funny hair cut, Perry!" she noted with a giggle.

"Can  I get you anything, hon?" my mom asked.

"Uh, maybe some water..."

"I'll get it," Mrs. Taylor offered.

My mom came and sat beside me, stroking my hair and looking at me with big worried eyes.

"You...uh...really freaked us out,"  Gary remarked with an uncomfortable grin.

"Gary caught you when you fainted," Jesse noted.

"Gees, I'm...I'm, really sorry," I apologized with profound embarrassment.

"Hey, no problem, dude.  You're not that heavy!"

"I thought you were dead and we were gonna have to bury you in the backyard!" Miranda said with wide eyes.

"That's not a very nice thing to say," Jesse pointed out to his little sister.

"I was joking, stupid!"

"Was not!"

"Was too!"

"Miranda!"  Mrs. Taylor chastised her nine year old daughter as she returned with my glass of water.

I glanced at my watch, curious how long I had been out.  Of course, I ended up staring at my bare wrist, and I felt a wave of nausea surge through my whole body as everything came back to me in a flood of images and emotions.

Mrs. Taylor handed the glass to my mom, who handed it cautiously to me.

"Take it easy, hon...Just sip it."

Well, it was too late for that, and I quickly drained the whole glass. 

"More?" Mrs.Taylor asked.

I shook my head.

"How long was I out?" I asked sheepishly.

"Oh, not long, thank goodness, or I would have taken you to the hospital," my mom answered.  "Maybe ten or twelve minutes..."

"Well, now that Perry's doing better, we should probably be going,"  Mrs. Taylor said, addressing her silent partner.

"Oh, can't I stay, mom?!" Jesse pleaded.

Mrs. Taylor hesitated.  I had no idea how much of the story anybody knew at this point so I just kept my mouth shut.

"It's getting late, and Miranda needs to get to bed and I have work tomorrow..."

"We'd be glad to drop him off in a little bit," Gary offered.

Mrs. Taylor looked at the tall, shaggy haired youth with a skeptical eye.

"Yeah mom.  Gary can drop me off!" Jesse agreed readily.

"We'll get him home safely, ma'am,"  Theresa added sweetly.

"Well, okay, but not too late.  I don't want you sleeping in all morning.  You have chores and you need to finish your homework if you want to go to Disneyland!"

I breathed a sigh of relief.  What ever had transpired, at least it sounded like the trip was still on.
"I want to see the Pirates Of The Carribean!"  Miranda shouted, jumping up and down, her pig tails flopping around her head.  She began singing the Pirate song.  "Yo ho!  Yo ho!  A pirate's life for me..."

"We went to see the movie," Jesse explained, rolling his eyes embarrassedly.

"I don't know why I always let you have your way,"  Mrs. Taylor said with a heavy sigh, staring at Jesse with a frustrated look.

"Because I'm so sweet and lovable!"  Jesse quipped.

Now it was Mrs. Taylor's turn to roll her eyes.   She shook her head in mock denial.   "Mr. Van Driesen, please bring Jesse straight home after your finished here,"  she said, and it was clear that this was nothing less than an inviolate and irrevocable order.  Gary nodded sheepishly.   Joe gave me a little nod and half a smile, but never said anything.  My mom thanked them for stopping by and gave Mrs. Taylor a loving hug.  The three of them went out by the kitchen door.

"Are you sure you're okay?"  my mom asked, feeling my forehead and cheek.  "You feel warm..."

"I'm okay...just a little tired..."  I hinted.

"Well, you can go right to bed--after you tell me what this is all about!"  Her voice instantly changed from soothing to demanding.

"Mr. Van Driesen, I don't know what your involvement was in this...this...activity," my mom said in a stiffly polite tone, "but this is really between me and my son.   If you have someplace you need to be..."

"We'd like to stay, ma'am," Gary said in a humble voice.  "You have an absolutely incredible son, and I...well...I just want to make sure that you get the whole story."

"I see," my mom said, holding back whatever emotions she was feeling at the moment.  "And Jesse, I know how close you and Perry are, but I'm not quite sure what any of this has to do with you."

"Well actually...I think it does have something to do with me," Jesse admitted sheepishly.  "And I just want to be here to support Perry cuz I think he's an amazing person too, and I'm sure whatever happened, he did it for a good reason."

I saw my mom's hardened features soften ever so slightly.  She looked at me and whatever else she was thinking, I could see the love and concern in her eyes.  Gary brought a couple of dining room chairs in for him and Theresa.  Jesse sat in the big leather recliner.

"Perry, I do want to believe that whatever happened was for a good reason...but why did you lie to me about who you were with and where you were going?" my mom asked in a non accusatory but tense voice.

"Maybe I should tell him how we ended up here first," Jesse interrupted quickly.

My mom nodded reluctantly.

"Well, I'm not sure I ever told you exactly what I've doing after school the last few weeks on Wednesdays and Fridays," Jesse explained.  "I've been going to help out at Miranda's after school program over at Sandoval.  They're kinda short handed there because of budget cuts and stuff, and Miranda's still a little jittery about staying in daycare...but that's another story," he added quickly.

"Anyway, the plan was that Joe and my mom were going to pick us up and we were gonna go to the budget theater to see Pirates Of The Carribean.  And then we stopped at McDonald's for supper--that was around seven fifteen.   My mom asked me to check the messages at home, and there were a couple from you...And you sounded kinda strange, like you were worried about something," he noted.  "And then there was a message from Gary, which was pretty surprising."

Jesse leaned forward in the big chair.  "So I was wondering what that was all about.  You said you were going out to eat with your mom so I didn't understand why you were looking for me all of a sudden.  I tried your cellphone but there was just a recorded message saying you were out of the service area.  So then I called your house and your mom answered, and she said you had a sudden change of plans, and had decided to go out with Gene and his brother."

That had seemed like such a good lie at the time!

"Then I called Gary, and he sorta told me where you guys were.  But we hardly got to talk when the line got cut off.  I tried calling back but we never reconnected."

"Uh, yeah, I think we were probably kinda busy right around then," Gary noted uncomfortably.

"So then I got a little...uh...worried," he admitted hesitantly.  "I asked my mom if we could stop by your house, just to say happy birthday.  And she said we were gonna see you on Sunday anyway and I said it would just be nice to wish Perry a happy birthday on his real birthday.  So we came over and..."

"And then I called the Rauchs," my mom interrupted.  "I asked Mrs. Rauch if she knew Gene's or his brother's cellphone number, and she asked why.  Well, I told her what you had told me of course," she said, looking at me with disappointment in her eyes.  "And that's when I found out that George had gone back to Miami last Sunday and Gene was upstairs studying."

"It was a lie," I said, quietly admitting my guilt.

"What?!" my mom gasped, more because she couldn't believe her ears than because she hadn't heard me. "But I spoke to Gene's brother on the phone...didn't I?"

"It was Gary," I admitted.  "I told him to do it."

"But why, Perry?  Why would you make up such an elaborate story and then go off with...with these people?"  I could hear her voice starting to crack with emotion.

"Okay, I wanna tell you this mom, but you have to promise me you won't tell Jesse's mom!"

I glanced worriedly at Jesse, torn between keeping our secrets and wanting to tell my mom as much of the truth as I could without totally freaking her out.  But he just looked straight into my eyes.  "You just say whatever you have to say," he declared, sounding more like a forty year old than a thirteen year old.

"If you boys are in some sort of trouble..." my mom began, sounding half worried, half angry, and wholly confused.

I looked at Jesse one more time, to make sure he was okay with this.  He gave me the slightest of nods.  "Well...this all started that time we went to that Jackie Chan movie with Gene and Tom..."  and even though I was physically and mentally exhausted, and starving to death, I described the whole incident at the mall...Well, everything except for the most important part, when Jesse and I hugged for the first time.

"That was totally my fault," Jesse confessed.  "I knew those guys were trouble and..."

"You didn't know what they were going to do!" I interrupted him passionately. 

My mom looked stunned, and Gary and Theresa seemed appropriately astonished as well at the story of Jesse beating up those high school thugs.

"So you're saying that, when I picked you up in the parking lot, you were actually being pursued by three...gang members?" my mom asked in disbelief.

I nodded.  "If you had turned around and looked at us, you would've seen that we were really freaked out," I assured her.

"Oh, Perry, dear...I didn't know!  Why didn't you tell me?  We could have spoken to the mall security.  Maybe they have a surveillance tape or something..."

"That's my fault too," Jesse insisted.  "I didn't want anyone knowing that I was a blackbelt.  See, back in Illinois I had kind of a reputation, and guys were always challenging me, to prove they were tough or whatever.  I ended up getting in a lot of fights...I really didn't want that to happen here."

"I see.  And your mother knows nothing about this?"

"Well, she for sure knows I'm a blackbelt!" Jesse joked halfheartedly, "...but not about the thing at the mall," he added soberly.

"I can't believe you kept this from me, Perry..."

I realized this whole thing could go down hill real fast and that my mom was about to lose it.

"It was scary, but it turned out okay.  I got punched, but it was no big deal!"

My mom just put her hand to her mouth in disbelief.

"He didn't tell you so that I wouldn't get in trouble,"  Jesse interjected in my defense.

My mom just nodded her head slowly and sighed.  "I don't suppose this is the time to point out to you boys that nothing good comes from lying," she uttered quietly.  "So what does this have to do with Mr. Van Driesen, or where you were tonight?" she asked.  "And where's your cellphone and your watch...and your house keys?"

Gees, she was observant!

"Well, I'm getting to that," I told her tiredly.

"Ma'am, if I could just say one thing," Gary interrupted sheepishly.  "I think your son is starving.  That's probably why he collapsed at the door there..."

"Oh, how awful of me!" my mom said, lapsing quickly back from interrogator to nurturer.  "Well, I assume you're all very hungry then, if you didn't go out to eat..."

"Except for me!" Jesse noted.

"Why don't I make you some sandwiches then..."  my mom got up and headed for the kitchen.

"Let me help you, Mrs. Thompson," Theresa insisted, and my mom didn't argue.

That left Gary, Jesse and me alone for a few minutes, although the den was right next to the kitchen so it wasn't exactly like we had any real privacy.  Still, I picked myself up, intending to throw myself at Jesse's feet and beg his forgiveness for not trusting him.  Instead, I just tottered there with the room spinning and I sat back down heavily.

So it was Jesse who ended up coming over to me.  He sat down on the sofa close to me but not touching, open concern on his face.  "Perry...gees...just take it easy, okay?  I think maybe...maybe you've been through a lot tonight..."  Jesse glanced over at Gary who nodded mutely.   "Whatever happened, at least you're here and you're okay...well, sort of..."  Tears moistened his eyes as he looked at me.  "I was so worried about you.  Why would you go running off to some cage fight looking for me?"  he asked incredulously.

"I totally betrayed you tonight and I don't expect you ever to forgive me," I confessed quickly, my voice choked with emotion.

"It's not about forgiving," he assured me, "but about you doing something so dangerous."

"It's really my fault," Gary interrupted.  "I was the one who told Perry that I'd heard about this junior cage fight thing at school.  I didn't know that some guy had already tried to recruit Jesse for..."

"Recruit Jesse for what?" my mom asked, as she came in carrying a big plate of sandwiches on sourdough bread.  Theresa followed quietly with plates and napkins for everyone.  My mom handed me a plate with a ham and cheese sandwich on it and I found myself unable to do more than nibble on it despite the emptiness in my stomach. 

"I think I understand now, Mrs. Thompson," Jesse said.

"I'm listening," she said stiffly, taking the seat that Jesse had abandoned.

"Well, it was the day that Perry came to my apartment to sleep over..."  he began, and then he told her--and Gary and Theresa--all about going to Kennedy to shoot hoops, running into Julio from the mall incident, the kumite with Gus, and finally, their cage fight solicitation.

"So that's what this is about!" my mom said with some relief, glad to be getting a clearer picture of what was going on.

I hated doing this to her, knowing that she had already had a bad dose of news earlier this week concerning my dad and Staci.  Now she was discovering that her son was involved with a boy who had (inadvertently) gotten her precious Perrypoo involved in at least two violent incidents.  And I think what was even more shocking to her, was discovering how her son had withheld the truth and even fabricated bald faced lies to conceal these significant events from her.

"So when Gary emailed you about this cage fight business, you assumed that Jesse would be involved?" she asked.

I nodded sheepishly.  Gary must have already explained that part to her while I was zonked out on the sofa.  "I know I was wrong.  I should have trusted him.  He told me he'd never do it, but then I knew that his family was always short of money and...and..."  Damn!  The tears were starting to flow and it seemed like they were going to overwhelm whatever defenses had helped me get through the rest of this evening without too much eye moisture.  I had to hold my breath to keep the tears from pouring out.

But my mom came over and wrapped her arms around my shoulders as Jesse scooted out of the way.   "This is so much...too much, for me to take in all at once," she said tiredly, sounding like she herself was on the verge of tears.  "But Perry, dear--you need to know that you can trust me, come to me with these things.  If you had only told me all this before, we could have tracked Jesse down somehow.  I have his mother's work number.  I probably could have even tracked down Joe through the yellow pages.  There were so many things we could have done without you having to run off with...with this young man...and to make up so many lies..."

"I'm sorry, mom.  I hate lying, really I do..."

"Yes, I know that dear, but I don't even mean to harp on that right now, although it's important.  The thing is, you put yourself--and your friends--" she said, gesturing with her head toward Gary and Theresa, "in so much danger.   If anything were ever to happen to you..."  Now her voice trailed off as tears poured from her brown eyes, some of them even falling on my pants legs.  It took us both a few minutes, but we  finally managed to rein in our emotions.  I was surprised to see Jesse standing before us with a box of Kleenex from the kitchen, on the verge of tears himself!

Now she turned to Gary.  "How old are you?" she asked in a constricted, but demanding voice.

"Seventeen, ma'am--eighteen in June," he added.

"What were you thinking, taking a thirteen year old--"

"Fourteen, mom--I'm fourteen!" I reminded her.

"A young boy into such a dangerous--and illegal situation?"

"I made him do it, mom.  It was me--not him," I insisted as adamantly as I could.

"You can't make someone do something like that if they don't want to," my mom pointed out. 

"That's true, ma'am," Gary admitted.  "And the thing is, I guess I kinda felt like I owed him something..."

"Whatever for?"  my mom asked.

"Well..." Gary began, glancing nervously at me. 

I was all for telling the truth tonight, at least enough to clue my mom in without sending her completely over the edge, but there was no way I wanted to get into the details of what happened at the rummage sale...No way I was going to tell my mom about Goreski and his giant sandworm!

"Perry walked into the john just as some kids were hassling Gary for money or something," Jesse jumped in smoothly.  "Perry ran and got me and I...well I took care of the problem."

Jesse was such a good liar!

"Yeah, Perry and Jesse really saved my bacon that day," Gary acknowledged quickly.

"This is getting to be too much!" my mom exclaimed, looking back and forth between me and Jesse.  "Why on Earth would you go to Jesse, instead of Father Mike or...or any adult?!"

Jesse was about to say something, offer some other logical falsehood no doubt, but I shot him a quick look.  We were already in so deep. 

"Mom, it's hard to explain but...sometimes, kids--they just don't want to go running to adults all the time.  They want to deal with their own problems."

"But you put Jesse in danger for no good reason!" she replied.

"No ma'am," Gary interjected.  "They did have a good reason--at least the way I see it."

My mom waited with a skeptical look on her now perpetually worried face.

"It's like, if you get adults involved, then there's a lot of questions," Gary continued.  " All the parents get involved.  Maybe even the police.  It's just a lot to deal with.  Perry and Jesse realized that it was just a couple of high schoolers hassling another high schooler--nothing to go running to the Padre about."

I realized that more lies were being spun while I was trying to unspin others, but this time, I just had to go along with it.   If my mom ever found out that I had nearly been forced to have oral sex, I think she would have  lost her mind.

"So I suppose Jesse beat these young men up as well?" my mom conjectured.

"Well, it was a enough to chase them off,"  Jesse offered.

"He's really good!" Gary acknowledged, although somehow, I didn't think that was what my mom wanted to hear just then.

A real chill went down my spine when I saw my mom glance over at Jesse, who had gone back to sit on the recliner.  Actually, I didn't even see her expression from where I was sitting, but I saw Jesse's reaction.  It was like he had been shot with an arrow and all the air had leaked out of him.  Somehow he just wilted, shrank into himself, and not since the day he had first walked into our class had I seen him looking so small and pitiful.  Jesse's eyes fell to the floor and I just felt awful for him!

My mom rose stiffly and looked at Gary and Theresa.  "I think we're all very tired," she said in a voice that was so emotionless that it was laden with undeniable meaning.  "Whatever happened tonight, what ever happened to your things," she said glancing down at me, "the important thing--the main thing-- is that you're safe...that you're all safe.  I think it would be best if you were all to go home now.  Perry needs to rest."

"I understand, ma'am," Gary said, "but--"

"Really, Mr. Van Driesen, I appreciate whatever it is you did or thought you were doing for my son tonight, but I simply...simply have heard enough for one night." 

There was a cold and uncomfortable silence in the room, and reluctantly, Gary and Theresa got up to leave.  Gary glanced at Jesse, who got up slowly.  My heart absolutely broke in two as I saw my beautiful angel diminished to a guilt ridden, shame filled little boy.  He looked up briefly at my mom, looking like nothing more than a whipped puppy.  When he glanced at me, I dropped my gaze to the floor.  It was unbearable.

Somehow, I knew exactly what my mom had been thinking as plain as if she had said it out loud, although, thank God, she hadn't.  I clearly remembered the conversation we had on the way to Jesse's apartment, the day I was going to sleep over.  She had been telling me what a big deal it was that Mrs. Taylor was letting me come over and spend time with her son, and that Jesse had been difficult and contentious.

I just want you to understand that Jesse isn't like Morgan and your other friends.  He and his family had a very difficult life before, and Jesse is a...a troubled boy.

I had refused to believe that was true.  I knew it wasn't true.  But when it was all laid out the way it was tonight, what else was my mom to think?  I even shook my head, wondering what she would say if I told her about my Sunday afternoon with Morgan...

I just sat on the sofa, forcing myself to eat my sandwich, but it had no taste to me.  I might as well have been chewing  on cardboard.  I heard my mom say good night to everyone in that same flat voice and the door close with an undeniable sense of finality. 

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