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

Part V  Truths and Lies

Chapter 9(b)  Mostly Truths...

 "Perry, I think you should get to bed," my mom said in a tired voice as she returned to the den.

"Why did you look at Jesse like that?" I asked accusingly, barely able to contain my burgeoning anger.

"What do you mean?" she asked innocently.

"You know what I mean!"

"Perry Jacob Thompson, you will not use that tone with me!"

"Jesse is the most amazing, wonderful, smart, talented person I've ever met," I said, barely able to keep my voice under control.  I realized if I shouted, my mom would simply refuse to listen--and I wanted her to listen.   "For you to judge him like that..."

It was clear by the look on her face, that my mom understood exactly what I was saying, but it wasn't going to change her opinion.  She remained standing as she replied.  "And you need to understand something, young man," she said in her most stern lecturing voice.  "However hokey or lame it may sound to you, you are my son, and you are my responsibility.  God knows I couldn't live with that man anymore, but sometimes--now that you're getting older--I wish your father was here to deal with...with these sorts of things!"

I felt some of my anger turn into guilt as I realized the burden that my mom was bearing.  Here was her one and only son, now fourteen years old, having gone off on a wild and dangerous adventure, admitting for the first time that he had been in several dangerous situations in the past, admitting that he had knowingly hidden those things from her, and admitting that he had deliberately lied to her outright this evening.  From her point of view, it must have seemed like I was a completely different person than who she had thought I was all these years.  Clearly Jesse wasn't the only troubled boy she had to deal with!

"But he's not," she concluded with a sigh of resignation, "and I have to do the best I can.  The fact is, we both knew that Jesse was troubled, that he had a difficult past.  Mrs. Taylor is going to be so disappointed to find out that he's been fighting again..."

"You promised not to tell her!"

"I promised no such thing," she corrected me, and I realized she was right.  But to her credit, she didn't press the issue.  "The fact is, it's not my place to tell Mrs. Taylor about these things.  It's Jesse's, and it might even be appropriate for you to be there when he does."

Of course I would stand by Jesse no matter what, and given the opportunity, I would defend him as vigorously as I could.

"I won't deny that I think Jesse is a good boy at heart--I can feel it.  Frankly, I don't think you would have taken to him so--so strongly if that wasn't true.  But you have to face the facts, Perry.  Jesse is just one of those unfortunate people who seems to attract trouble no matter--"

"He doesn't attract trouble, mom--I do!" I cried, getting to my feet.  I still felt a little light headed, but I was able to keep my balance this time.

"Don't say that!" my mom gasped in shock.  "You're a good boy, Perry.  I know you are.  No one could be sweeter..."

"I'm not sweet!  I'm...I'm just a kid...a pretty dumb kid, and sometimes kids get into a little trouble but we don't want to go running to our mommies every time a bully picks on us or someone tries to do something bad to you or..."

"Did someone try to do something bad to you?" she asked warily.

I tried to sort everything out in my brain.  As much as I wanted to tell her the full truth about everything, I knew full well that I wasn't going to tell her about Goreski and what really happened at the rummage sale, but...

"I should tell you about tonight," I offered.

I could see my mom start to protest.  Obviously, she wanted to talk more about Jesse, but that could wait.  It was too emotional of a subject for me, and I was too drawn out to deal with it in a way that wouldn't make things worse.  But everything that had happened tonight was totally my fault, and I didn't know if it was because I was a Catholic or what, but I did feel the need to confess to her.

"You're tired, Perry, not well at all..."

"Let's just sit, and I'll be fine," I assured her.  I sat back down on the sofa, but my mom took one of the dining room chairs Gary had brought in earlier.

"So you know I got it in my stupid head that Jesse had gone to this junior level cage fighting thing.  Well, Theresa had found out about it from her friends, and she had told Gary, and Gary emailed me, just having this weird feeling that it was something Jesse might get involved with."

I had to give my mom credit because, as wound up as she was, as despondent as she had been by the news about my dad's impending nuptials, as frightened and worried as she'd been about my whereabouts this evening, and as concerned as she was about my relationship with that troubled boy from Illinois, she was still willing to sit and listen. 

"So I really panicked--I don't know why.  Jesse had told me that he wouldn't do something crazy like that, but I just had this bad feeling...I was so worried about him and I got it in my head that Gary and I needed to rescue him right away!"

"And where was this event taking place?" she asked.  I could see she was struggling to hold back her conflicting feelings, at least long enough to get the story from me.

"It was at this place called Hode Ranch, out around Pasqual Canyon."

She nodded in understanding.

"So when we got there, there was like this crummy old house, and this funky lookin' guy came out and asked us our business.  Well, it got kinda difficult, and I don't think the guy was convinced we were there to watch and wager on the fights.  So I told him I was a blackbelt, and I was going to fight!"

"Oh, goodness!"  my mom's eyes opened wide. 

I watched to see if she was going to lose it, but somehow she forced herself to remain calm, at least outwardly.

"Well, he was still a little skeptical, but I guess he finally bought it.  Gary had to give him a password and we went on ahead.  It turned out the fights were being held in this huge metal barn in the middle of this really thick woods.  There were a lot of cars there.  That's when we called you..." I reminded her sheepishly.

She only nodded.

"Well, we went to the door, and I told them I was a fighter, so they made us go around back.  There was a guy there--just a kid really--his name was Billy Zanternman, and he let us in and told us we were late and stuff.  Then he took us in this office and had us give him fake names.  He seemed really nice and first.  When I told him it was my birthday, he said he was going to be turning eighteen in a couple of days!  Isn't that weird?"

I paused and she just stared at me with the most worried eyes I had ever seen. 

"I told him Gary was my manager, and I was the Ninja Of Death.  But Billy suggested Iron Ninja, and I thought that was cool, so I used that."

"You thought that calling yourself a blackbelt named Iron Ninja was cool?" she asked incredulously.  I saw the look of disappointment on her face.  "I had no idea you had this...this wild side to your personality, Perry," she admitted.

That didn't make me feel any better but I knew I deserved it.  "So then he told us we had to go upstairs and see the boss, cuz we were late and stuff.  So we met this creepy Middle-eastern guy--Faisul Al-Jihuad the Third, and he was the guy running the whole show.  There were some other people there, like this huge, giant bodyguard named Zhen Woo.  And there was another guy who tried to attack me--"

"Good heavens!"

"But it was like a test, mom, to see if I was really a blackbelt..."

"But you're not!"

"I know,  But I did remember some of the things I've seen Jesse do, and I was able to block this guy and fool everyone--once anyway.  I was pretty lucky.'

"I would say so!"

"Then it got a little scary because they wanted Gary to go downstairs--to the 'floor' they called it--while I went through some more security stuff."

"Gary left you?" my mom asked in astonishment and I could hear a slightly accusatory tone in her voice.

"We had no choice, mom!  Believe me, he didn't want to go.  But I'm telling you, if you'd seen this huge, giant bodyguard..."

"Oh, don't remind me," my mom said, waving the image away with her hand.

"Well, it was scary, but at first, everyone was real friendly.  They had some papers I had to sign.  I wished you'd been there, because there was a lot of legal jargon and..."

"It was all nonsense," my mom said dismissively.  "It was an illegal operation.  Any papers you signed would be null and void.  Besides, you're under age--what nonsense!" she repeated irritably. 

"Well, I didn't know..." I admitted.  "But then, things got even weirder, because Mr. Al-Jihuad wanted me to go into this back room with Billy--the computer guy, and the big bodyguard--Zhen Woo."

"Back room?" my mom asked apprehensively.

"Yeah, well, it sounded a little scary, but I saw that Billy had a clipboard with a bunch of papers on it, so I figured he was just going to ask me a bunch more questions.  I was just hoping to get downstairs as soon as possible so Gary and I could find Jesse and get out of there!"

My mom just shook her head in continuing disbelief.

"Well, it turned out, they didn't want to ask questions--they wanted to do a strip search!"

"Good heavens, Perry.  This is unbelievable!  What kind of horrible people would do something like that to a young boy?"

"Well, I really did freak out.  I was really  scared and I begged Billy not to do it, but he showed me that the room was under surveillance and that we'd both get in big trouble if we didn't follow the boss's orders."

"If I wasn't seeing you in front of me right now, in one piece, I don't think I could even bear to hear any more of this," my mom admitted with a strained voice.

"I can quit if you want," I offered.

"No,  tell me everything.  Then we're going to call the police and have all these monsters arrested--even Billy."

"Well, you'd better wait until you hear the whole story before you call the police," I suggested.

My mom looked a little puzzled (along with worried and scared and angry) but she nodded, waiting for me to continue.

"So first, he told me to take off my shoes and socks..."

"Oh Perry, what did I tell you about going barefoot in a strange place.  You don't know who's been walking around there or how clean..."

"Mom!"  I scowled at her, and then had to laugh a little.  Finally she even managed an embarrassed smile, realizing she was grossly missing the point of my story.

"So then I had to give him my shoes and socks and he searched for whatever kind of stuff he was looking for, and he wrote things on his form.  I even had to show him the soles of my feet!"

"Good heavens!"

"Then I had to take off my shirt, and that felt a little weird because I knew not only Billy and Zhen Woo were looking at me, but those people out in the room as well."

"And you've always been so bashful...How awful..." my mom uttered.

I nodded in complete agreement.  "So he checked out my shirt and I got kinda angry because I was thinking, what could I hide in this stupid shirt?  But I guess that's how they do it..." I shrugged.  "So then..."

"Oh Perry," my mom interrupted.  "Just how far did this go?  This is just torture having to listen to you tell this to me, knowing that those sick...sick people are still out there..."

"Well, after he went through my pants..."

"Is that where you lost all your things?" she asked with pure motherly concern.

"Actually, that came later," I told her.  "Anyway, then Billy wanted me know...finish up," I said, feeling myself blushing at telling my mom something so incredibly embarrassing.  "And I said no I wouldn't, and he got really mad and told Zhen Woo to...get me to cooperate I guess..."

"Perry, you aren't making any of this up, are you?" my mom asked fearfully.

I realized with a shudder that we had crossed, and in all likelihood burned a big bridge tonight.  I'd lost whatever inherent trust my mom had in me.  After tonight, everything I told her or didn't tell her would be suspect.  How ironic that this had to happen on my fourteenth birthday.  Maybe it meant something, like I was growing up, learning to lie, deceive, and conceal the truth the way adults did all the time.  If this was part of growing up, I didn't like it one bit, and in a way, I wished that I hadn't told her anything: about Jesse, about Gary, about the ranch.  Then I could still be her sweet and innocent Perrypoo...

"No, mom--I swear.  Do you think I wanted to tell you how I was strip searched?" I asked.

She nodded in sympathetic understanding.  It did feel good to get this all off my chest, and not have to talk about Jesse right now.  That was going to be even more difficult and a lot more emotional and I wasn't looking forward to it.

"Anyway, it looked pretty bad and I was going to go ahead and...and take off my underwear, but then Zhen Woo's cellphone rang.  It turned out that they wanted me to go down and fight right away!"

My mom put her hand to her mouth, her eyes wide with shock.  She got up and paced the room.  "This is so difficult to hear, Perry...So horrible...But...but you look okay..." she noted confusedly.

"I am okay, mom.  Please, sit down and listen," I urged her.

I waited for her to sit down, but instead, she stood in front of the TV with her arms crossed.  She was biting her lower lip like kids do when they're nervous and that looked kind of weird and unsettling.

"Well, Billy was really mad because...well, you know...he really wanted to do his job and he thought Mr. Al-Jihuad would be pis--upset if he didn't.  But then Zhen Woo told me to get dressed and I did.  I was so out of there!"

"Oh, thank goodness!" My mom gasped, choking back tears.

"So I ran downstairs but I couldn't find Gary anywhere!  I was just going to go looking for him when this guy told me I had to get to the waiting room, which is where the fighters go right before their round.  That's where I left all my stuff."

"How could you stand it, Perry?" she asked.  "Being in that place?  With those horrible people?  You're not a fighter..."

"I know, but I was sure I was going to see Jesse.  Stupid me--I was hardly afraid at all!"

She nodded tight lipped.

"But Jesse wasn't in that room, and the guy told me the Karate Kid--that's who I thought was Jesse--was still cleaning up from his last fight--which he won.  So then they called me out and it was pretty cool, mom.  It was like, 'Announcing the next contest:  A Special Event featuring the undefeated Karate Kid versus the Iron Ninja,' and...and stuff, and the crowd was cheering and it was just so extreme!"  I realized that, despite everything I had gone through, it had been exhilarating to take that walk around the outside of the Cage with people cheering for me and getting all pumped up for the match.

"But then came the big surprise of the night--it wasn't Jesse after all!  It was some other kid!  He looked a little like Jesse--but he wasn't!"  I didn't want to tell her that it was the altar boy from St. Agnus.  My mom would certainly be able to find out who he was and I wasn't sure he deserved to get in trouble for what he was doing.  Well, I at least wanted to talk to him and hear what his side of the story was first, before I would consider ratting on him.

"So then I was super scared of course, but I still got pushed into the Cage and I thought for sure I was going to get the...shi...the stuffing beat out of me.  But then, there were all this shouting and screaming, and it turned out the police were raiding the place!"

"So the police did find out about it!" my mom said with obvious relief.

"Yeah.  You see, it was Billy's job to throw the cops off the scent.  He put false information on the internet to mislead them, but it turned out someone called them.  Guess who?" I asked excitedly.

My mom shrugged unknowingly.

"It was Gary!  When he realized that the Karate Kid wasn't Jesse, he got really worried for me, and he reported the cage fight to the police--wasn't that totally cool of him?"

My mom nodded reluctantly.  "It was a very brave thing for him to do," she admitted.

"Yeah, it was.  But the best part's still coming!" I told her, really getting into those last exhilarant few minutes at Hode Ranch.  "The people, they unlocked the Cage when they realized the police really were coming, and so I didn't get beat up!  And then Gary found me and we ran outside.  Some guards were chasing after us, but then Gary's car came zooming up just like in the movies and there was like tons of dust!  And Theresa was driving and we burned rubber--it was awesome!"

"Perry..." my mom said in a tight and quiet voice.  "You talk like it was one of your...your video games.  Those were bad people you were dealing with.  I wouldn't be surprised if those guards you saw had guns!"

"Well...maybe," I admitted.  "And it did all seem scary at the time.  But now that I think back on it, some parts of it were pretty cool!"

My mom shook her head frustratedly.  "So the police found you and took you to the local station?"

"No, it didn't happen like that--not at all!" I told her excitedly.  "See, the most awesome part was, Gary made a deal with the police that I had to have free passage out of there or he wouldn't tell them where the fights were being held.  Wasn't that totally awesome of him?"

I could see that my mom was definitely having a change of heart about Gary and I felt good about that.  If I could do the same about her feelings towards Jesse, everything would turn out okay! 

"Yes, you're right," she conceded.  "That was a very considerate thing to do."

"But at first, I didn't get it.  He kept telling the police who would stop us that we had to see Sergeant Peabody, but we never found him...or her I guess.  Finally he told me that was the secret code they had given him so that they knew who he was and that we were supposed to be able to get out of there even though they were arresting everyone else!"

"You were very, very lucky..." my mom agreed hesitatingly.

"Yeah, but then guess what the most amazing thing was?" I asked, my eyes now wide with awe and wonder.  "Just when we got back to the road, we felt the explosion..."

"The explosion...?"

"Yeah, that place, that barn, I guess it was rigged to blow up and catch on fire if the police came.  It blew up twice!  You should've seen the fire and smoke shooting up like hundreds of feet into the air!"

"Good heavens...Do you think people were still inside?"

I shrugged, remembering that it hadn't just been a spectacular light show and that I had been worried about the people inside.  "I don't know mom," I admitted, the giddiness of those amazing moments quickly evaporating into guilt and concern.  "There was at least fifteen minutes since we jetted out of there and the first explosion.  I hope everyone got out...even the bad people..."

"Oh...Perry...!"  My mom came running over to the sofa and sat beside me.  She grabbed me in a powerful and emotional embrace and I hugged her back. 

"This is all so much to take in...but I just have to tell you, what you did was so brave--reckless, and foolish, and dangerous yes, but so incredibly brave that you would take such risks and put yourself in such danger for Jesse..."

"He's totally worth it, mom," I assured her.

She pulled back and looked at me.  Both of us had tears in our eyes.  "I...I honestly don't know what to think about Jesse right now," she admitted.

I looked her straight in the eye.  "If you're thinking something bad about him, then you're totally wrong!"

"I...I want to believe that, Perry, but sometimes I think that maybe...maybe you're a little naive about things...about people..."

"You're right," I admitted freely.  "I am naive about a lot of things, but not Jesse.  I know who he is and he's one of the best people I know--period!"

My mom just nodded, her mind clearly conflicted by the shocking stories she had heard for the first time tonight and the things she had discussed with Mrs. Taylor, versus her desire to believe wholly in her one and only son.  I realized it would take a long time for me to rebuild that trust she had lost in me tonight.

"I know how you feel about Jesse, and I don't want to seem like a cruel and uncaring parent," she told me, "but it's just something I have to think about a little...You can understand that, can't you?"

I nodded reluctantly, not wanting to get into a heated argument with my mom, even though I would if I thought it would help Jesse's cause.

"You know, I'm just wondering..." she said, a puzzled expression on her face.  She picked up the TV remote.  "I wonder..." she repeated, as the big screen flickered to life.

There it was--on TV!  The banner across the bottom of the screen read:  Breaking News--Hode Ranch, southeast of Escondido.  I couldn't believe it!  They were showing what must have been a helicopter view of the ranch.  Below, were the smoking, clearly rectangular shaped ruins of the barn.  Smoke still billowed out and the whole clearing was covered in fire engines and cop cars.  My mom turned up the sound.

"...To be determined.  However, police suspect that there will be more arrests as the investigation continues."

My mom and I looked at each other in amazement.  "So this was all true...?" she asked.

"I told you it was!"

"Yes, but..."

She stopped in mid sentence as the reporter began speaking again.

"If you just tuned in, we're standing just outside a supposedly abandoned ranch about fifteen miles southeast of Escondido, in the Pasqual Canyon area.  I say supposedly since it seems that this was possibly the site of a number of illegal cage fights over a period of as much as a year and a half.  Apparently, one took place earlier this evening--a junior version by some accounts, involving fighters as young as thirteen years of age.   The authorities have recently become aware that such an operation was going on somewhere in northern San Diego County, but until now, have not had the specific information they needed to organize a raid on the scale you see here tonight."

As the reporter stood there on Hode Ranch Road, police cars with flashing lights in the background, choppers both civilian and governmental flying in the background, it completely blew my mind to think that Gary, Theresa, and I had been there less than a couple of hours ago!

"What you are witnessing here tonight is a joint operation of the San Diego Sheriff's Department in conjunction with the Escondido Police Force which has jurisdiction over this unincorporated area southeast of the city.  The smoke and chaos you see behind me was the result of two massive explosions that completely demolished the large barn-like structure where these fights allegedly took place.  The police suspect that two large incendiary devices were detonated in an attempt to destroy any evidence that might lead authorities to the people who are organizing and running these dangerous and illegal events."

He paused as the picture changed to that of the metal barn in flames.  "This was the scene less than an hour ago," he noted.  While people ran helter skelter on the ground amongst the phalanx of squad cars, the first fire trucks began arriving.  I wondered what had become of everybody:  Gus and Jaime, Craig, the injured Crusher, the Terrorist and the other fighters, Al-Jihuad, Zhen Woo, Myashi, the raven haired woman, Goreski, Mario Hernandez, Billy...

"According to our sources, several hysterical employees of the Hode Ranch operation informed police immediately upon their arrival that the structure was rigged with explosives and that they had every reason to believe those explosives were going to be detonated momentarily.  This caused the police to conduct an immediate evacuation of the premises, an operation hampered by  various participants and suspects trying to escape into the thickly wooded area that entirely surrounds this large metal structure--roughly the size of a football field.  While we have seen several ambulances removing injured people from the site, we have no immediate reports of any fatalities related to the raid or the subsequent explosions."

The reporter now turned to a representative of the sheriff's department.   "I understand that the authorities already have an idea of who might have been behind these cage fight activities.  Can you elaborate on that?"

"Well, we have been aware of these sorts of activities going on in the northern San Diego County area for some time now.  Unfortunately, these events are not uncommon in many areas of the Southland and operations have been shut down by various local, state, and federal jurisdictions from Santa Barbara County to the Mexican border, but this particular organization has been very difficult to pin down.  It was not only very professionally organized, but professionally hidden as well.  We do have a possible suspect however, a man who has had his hand in several illegal operations in this part of the county, including prostitution rings and rave parties at which the primary goal is to sell illegal drugs to teenagers."

"And has this suspect been apprehended here tonight?"

"I'm not at liberty to say at the moment," the spokesman replied enigmatically.

I felt a shiver go down my back as I imagined that Al-Jihuad, and no doubt his trusted bodyguard Zhen Woo, had somehow escaped during all the pandemonium.  If they had, would they discover that Gary was the one that had informed the police?  Would they go after him?  And since he had been my 'manager,' would they go after me as well?

"Since there were so many minors involved in this evening's particular event," the reporter noted, "the police have been processing them at the Escondido station and then releasing them to the custody of their parents, all of whom appeared to be quite stunned when made aware of their son or daughter's whereabouts this evening.  There have been however, numerous arrests of people said to be associated in some way with the cage fight operations.   As soon as these people have been identified, we'll bring it to you here, live on Channel Nine..."

My mom flicked off the TV.

"Hey!" I said, fascinated and horrified by being able to watch the aftermath of what Gary had wrought, sitting in my den watching my own TV!

"That's enough, Perry.  My heart just can't take it anymore.  Please, let's go upstairs and get ready for bed.  We can talk more about this in the morning."

I had to admit I was extremely tired.  I wasn't really hungry but my stomach felt empty and sick.  Hopefully, I'd be able to get a good night's sleep and then have a big breakfast in the morning.  My mom flicked off the downstairs lights and followed me up.  We stopped in front of my room.

"Thank God you're okay!" she said in a hoarse and weary voice.  "I want you to say your prayers tonight, Perry.  Someone was truly watching over you tonight."  She held my face in her hands and her eyes seemed to probe me.  " son in a cage fight!" she said with a hesitant smile of pride and disbelief.   There was another long hug and I felt her trembling.

"I'm not as fragile as you think," I pointed out.

"No, I suppose you're not...but you're also not Superman...and neither is Jesse," she added quickly.

I could only nod as I said my final good night and entered my room, closing the door behind me.  It wasn't even ten o'clock yet and I decided I needed to take a shower real bad.  While my mom had gotten a little carried away earlier, it was true that I felt filthy after having to strip down to my boxers in that back room for Billy's entertainment.  I felt a wave of disgust shake my body as I remembered the way Billy had looked at me with that mindless lust in his eyes.  I didn't know if it was right to call him the things I did, but I did know that the way he had looked at me had made me feel sick and awful. 

As the exhilarating spray of the shower soaked my hair and body, I wondered where he was now.  Apparently, everyone had gotten out of the barn alive, but there had been some injuries.  I had a strong suspicion that Al-Jihuad had somehow escaped, but not before triggering some sort of self destruct sequence like they always did when they had to blow up the Enterprise on Star Trek.  But what about Billy?  Had they left him to stew in his own misery and shame in that back room, or had someone thought to help him escape as well?  And if he did get out, was he now on the lam with Al-Jihuad and his entourage or had he been left as a sacrificial lamb for the police?  Could Billy be sulking in jail right now, or had he been able to convince the authorities that he had been no more than a spectator?  Maybe he was waiting at the Escondido station right now for his shocked and frightened parents to pick him up.  Somehow, that seemed like the best scenario to me, so I left him there, my mind then turning to Jesse.

Had I been right to reveal to my mom the fights Jesse had been in since we met?  Jesse had made it clear early on that he wanted his fighting abilities to remain a secret.  He hadn't even told me about it until the moment when he was no longer able to hide it from me.  But he had beseeched me even then not to tell anybody.  I remembered how calm he had been at Kennedy when Julio and Gus had shown up.  I had thought for sure we were in danger but Jesse hadn't.  His experience told him that he needed to accept Gus's challenge or risk having the situation escalate into something beyond his control.  Had Jesse been right about that?  He drew from experiences I had never had or could barely imagine.  He had uncanny instincts and was smart in every sense of the word.   I realized that we had fabricated yet another lie this evening in an attempt to explain Gary's involvement in my wild goose chase.  But that was something I didn't regret.  I just couldn't tell my mom about Fred Goreski and what he wanted from me.

The last image in my mind, after everything I had gone through today, was that of my beautiful blond angel wilting under the accusatory glare of my angry and frightened mom.  My poor baby...what must he be going through right now?  I knew I needed to talk to him first thing in the morning and try to make things right.   Maybe Gary and Theresa had been able to give him some comfort and support, and I would be grateful for that.  But then, Jesse didn't even trust Gary!  Oh, the look of shame and guilt on my sweet angel's face...

I was dreaming that I was back in that room of course.  It was much brighter than I remembered it and this time, there was a television monitor right there on the wall, showing me everything the camera up in the corner was picking up.  I stared fearfully at the black and white image of my pathetic self dressed in nothing but my boxers.   I turned to see that the stoic Zhen Woo was steadfastly guarding the door.  Billy approached me.  He had his glasses off, but he was calm and cheerful--harmless looking.  But my heart was beating forcefully in my bare chest and I realized I was paralyzed with fear. 

Billy brought his hands up to my face and held my cheeks between his hands.  "I love you, Perry.  You're the best birthday gift I ever got and I can't wait to unwrap you!"

With that, he took my boxers by the waistband and slid them down my trembling legs as I stood there frozen as an ice sculpture.  I watched in horror and disgust as Billy took in my fully naked form.  "Happy birthday to me!" he sang, gleefully off key.  His hands slid down my chest towards my exposed boyhood.  I turned to Zhen Woo for help, but it was no longer the stoic Asian bodyguard blocking the door--it was Fred Goreski!  And what was that hanging out of the front of his pants?!  As sickening realization dawned, Billy's cold and clammy hands wrapped around my own slowly hardening cock.   He leaned in, drool trickling from the sides of his mouth.  "Time for my birthday kiss," he informed me before pressing his lips to mine...

"Ugggh!"  I gasped, springing up in my bed.  I was trembling and sweaty and it took me a few seconds to realize that I was in my own bedroom, only...something wasn't quite right.  There was more light in here than would normally be generated by the glowing red numbers of my digital alarm clock.  Then I saw that the hallway door was open and that was the source of the extra illumination.  I started when I realized my mom was sitting next to the head of my bed in the desk chair.

"Poor darling!" she crooned, getting to her feet.  "You were having a nightmare!"

I nodded but didn't feel like I had recovered my voice yet. 

My mom went to the bathroom and came back with a damp washcloth.  She knelt beside the bed and dabbed my forehead.

"Wh...what are you doing here?" I asked, still trying to separate the events in my dream from the reality of the moment.

"I couldn't sleep, so I came in be with you," she admitted somewhat sheepishly.  "I was just sitting here, starting to drift off, when you began moaning and tossing in your sleep.  Then you suddenly sprang up!  My goodness, you gave me such a start!"

"Yeah...well..." I didn't know what to say.

"I'm worried that you might have nightmares for a long time, Perry.  You've been through a lot...more than any boy should have to go through.  We might need to go to a therapist..."

"No, mom!" I insisted with a scowl on my tired face.  "I don't want to see a therapist!"

She only nodded noncommittally.  "Are you okay now?" she asked.

"Sure...of course.  I'll get it over it," I assured her, even though I knew that was wishful thinking at best.

"Do you want to talk about it?" she asked.

I shook my head.  There was a stretch of silence as I slowly gathered my wits about me.

"I've been thinking that I may have been too harsh with Jesse..." she admitted quietly.

"You really, really hurt him tonight," I informed her.  "He trusted me to tell you the truth and I thought you'd be more understanding."

"This was so much for me to take in tonight, Perry.  I could have lost you tonight..." she whispered. 

"I'm...I'm sorry about that..."

"I always thought you were such an honest boy...When did you start feeling that it was okay to lie to me?"

I shrugged.  If I really thought about it, it would have to be around the time I started getting close to Jesse...

"It's just that, Jesse has a lot of sadness inside," I revealed.  "Sometimes when we're alone, it comes out and..."

"I'm so glad the two of you found each other," she conceded.  "I know that you're a good influence on him but..."

"And he's a good influence on me!" I insisted.  "He's the most amazing person I ever met!"

My mom looked at me with a much more thoughtful and patient demeanor than earlier this evening, actually last evening since it was now after one a.m.  "We'll need to go to the mall tomorrow--today actually--" she noted, abruptly changing the subject.  "Fortunately, your phone is insured so you should be able to get a replacement right away.  I suppose you'll need a new wallet.  What did you have in there?"

"My student ID, my Library card, and Blockbuster card."

"What about cash?"

"Well, I had over a hundred and twenty, but it cost seventy for Gary and me to get into the fights..."

"Oh, that sounds quite reasonable for something like that," my mom noted, and then, realizing the absurdity of her statement, we both looked at each other  and started to laugh.  It felt good to relieve the tension, even if it was only for a few seconds.

"Gary didn't have much money, and since it was my idea to go in the first place, I felt that it was my obligation to pay for him."

"Of course, dear," she agreed.  "And you'll need a new watch..."

"I think I still have that one I got for my First Communion," I noted.  "It probably just needs a new battery."

"All right, you can look for it in the morning.  It would be nice to replace the one you lost though.  It was a gift from your father..."

"Yeah, that camcorder he sent is really something!"

"I'm glad you like it.  He told me he'd seen you drooling over it one day when you were shopping in Times Square.  I do think you owe him a phone call," she noted.

That wasn't something I was looking forward to, but I knew it was something I'd have to do.  I only hoped I could keep my cool when we talked. 

"Anyway, I was thinking maybe we could invite Jesse to go to the mall with us," my mom suggested.

My eyes opened wide with excitement.  "That would be awesome!" I agreed.

"Oh, Perry," my mom smiled, leaning forward in her chair, "if you could just see yourself, the way your face lights up whenever you're going to get together with Jesse.  It's just so precious..."

"So you're not mad at him anymore?"I asked hopefully.

My mom's smile diminished somewhat and her face took on a more thoughtful expression.  "Well....There are things we need to discuss.  There might have to be some changes--certainly some clear understanding between all of us...But that can wait a few days I suppose."

"Until after the trip?" I asked hopefully.

She nodded her head silently.

I leaned over and gave my mom a big, loving hug.  Finally, she squeezed my shoulder and got to her feet.  "All right.  I think I can sleep now," she said.  "If you have any more nightmares, don't hesitate to come and..."

"And what?" I asked, a childish grin on my face, "come and sleep with my mommy?"

"Those days are gone aren't they?" she noted wistfully.

I shrugged, not wanting to admit that I was too big to spend the night with my own mother anymore.  "I could bring the futon into your room..." I suggested.

My mom nodded.  "You do that if you want to," she said, and gave me a comforting smile before leaving and closing the door behind her.


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