please fasten your seat belts and return your tray tables to their
upright and locked positions ..."
I had actually been looking forward
to my first-ever trip on an airplane. The take-off was really exciting,
but unfortunately, that's about all I got to experience, having fallen
asleep shortly after we'd gotten in the air. That was probably due to
the fact that I had woken up at five in the morning so we could be at
the airport on time to catch the plane. I didn't see why we had to take
such an early flight to Las Vegas. But then again, the earlier we
arrived, the more time we'd have to do stuff.
After a short cab ride from the airport, we arrived at our hotel, a
Holiday Inn. I guess most people would think of the Holiday Inn as a
pretty crappy hotel, especially compared with all of the luxury hotels
in Vegas. But the Las Vegas Holiday Inn was pretty nice. Ryan had
wanted to stay in one of the nice casino hotels, but I didn't really
see the point, since we couldn't go into the casinos anyway. He seemed
to think the Holiday Inn wasn't good enough for our "special trip," but
he hadn't been forced to stay in some of the shitty motels I had over
the years with my mother. So, to me, the Holiday Inn was like paradise.
threw me off balance to see him acting so cranky about something so
insignificant. It wasn't like we'd be spending much time in the hotel,
Once we'd checked in (fortunately, Maggie had reserved the room ahead
time with her credit card, so we didn't run into any problems with
being only sixteen years old), we decided to get a late breakfast at a
little diner we had spotted down the street, and then go out to do some
sightseeing and shopping. Our first stop was the Liberace Museum, which
I just had to see, with its collection of Liberace's garish,
over-the-top stage outfits, his unique collection of pianos, and other
artifacts. I'm not sure Ryan was that interested, but I was fascinated
by all of it.
There were a bunch of other places to go as well, but
since the show was that night, we didn't want to get too tired out. So
after a quick lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe -- where I got to see more
rock & roll memorabilia than I had ever dreamed possible in one
place -- we just decided to walk around downtown Las Vegas
and check out all of the beautiful hotels and casinos and do some
shopping. I could have spent a fortune on clothes and useless
souvenirs, but Ryan made sure my wallet stayed firmly planted in my
pocket, which was probably a good thing. I wasn't used to having money,
and now that I had some, I wanted to spend it. But I had to keep
reminding myself that it wasn't really all that much money, and I
save. Plus, gas prices had been going up, and I had to have emergency
funds in case anything happened to my car.
At about six-thirty, we headed over to Caesar's Palace, and I was
thrilled to find that they had an entire shop filled with Elton John
merchandise. They had almost every kind of Elton John memorabilia you
could possibly think of, and I felt like a little kid in a candy store.
I could have hung out there for hours on end, just running my fingers
over everything. But after I'd bought a few cool things to put in my
bedroom, Ryan had to drag me out of there so we could get to our seats
on time. Did I mention already that we were sitting in the front row?!?!
The show itself was even more incredible, more over-the-top than I
have possibly imagined, and far different from his typical concerts. It
done in true Las Vegas style. Elton John was filling in at the 4,100
venue at Caesar's Palace when Celine Dion (whom I detested with a
passion) wasn't performing there. Long
gone were the days of Elton John's garish and gaudy costumes, from
impersonations of Mozart, Tina Turner, and Donald Duck, to South
American generalissimo uniforms and tuxedos with Boater hats. Instead,
for a plain black Versace suit, trimmed with multi-colored sashes,
plain black sunglasses, and a simple diamond stud in his right ear
(which I was more than positive was real).
Apparently, he didn't want his outfit to distract from the incredible
props covering the stage, which included enormous inflatable bananas,
hot dogs, and even a giant pair of inflated female breasts, mammaries
easily outsized any of the other stage props. And right smack in the
middle of this bonanza of lights, sounds, and sights that overwhelmed
all of the senses, was Elton John
himself, seated at his striking red Yamaha concert grand piano.
"The Red Piano" show was a wild pop-art spectacle, designed by the
famous photographer David LaChapelle, filling the stage with neon
and X-rated marquees. The massive LED screen at the back of the stage
flashed with images of Las Vegas, seventies porn in full-action, and
images spanning the course of Elton's long career.
Elton began his hour and a half setlist with a bang, pounding out the
classic "Bennie and
the Jets," then greeted the fans by saying, "Welcome to the Colosseum
... the home of Celine Dion ... but not tonight!" He then tore through
a string of his greatest hits,
including the soulful "Philadelphia Freedom," "Believe," "Daniel,"
"Rocket Man," "I
Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues," "Sorry Seems To Be the
Hardest Word," "Tiny Dancer," "Don't Let the
Sun Go Down on Me," and "Candle in the Wind" (complete
with a video extravaganza of Marilyn Monroe images). Each of the songs
were accompanied by their own video shows on the large LED screen. Some
were raunchy and risqué, while others were poignant and touching.
overall, the effect was quite campy.
As soon as he finished "Candle in the Wind," a large pinball dropped
from the ceiling, along with hundreds and hundreds of balloons and
tons of confetti, and a
pre-recorded electronic-rock intro began, leading into the classic
"Pinball Wizard." That was immediately followed by a hard-rocking
rendition of "The Bitch is Back" (featuring a video
of a naked Pamela Anderson doing a sultry pole dance), the up-beat "I'm
Still Standing," and then
on to the raucous rocker "Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)." The
excitement in the air that night as Elton totally rocked out on stage
was palpable. And feeling the electricity that filled the arena,
seeing how he
had the entire audience eating out of his hand, made me realize how
much of an amateur I really was compared to him.
The crowd was on their feet the whole time, screaming their heads off,
and Ryan and I were lucky enough to manage to get a handshake from the
Man himself as he made his rounds of the front row, signing autographs,
shaking hands, and accepting gifts. He stopped long enough in front of
Ryan and me to see that we were holding hands, and gave us a big
smile and a wink! He was so close that I could smell the Versace
cologne that he was wearing. That moment right there was the highlight
whole show for me.
As Elton exited the stage, the stagehands removed many of the props
were strewn everywhere and replaced them with large, red
inflatable letters spread out across the stage that spelled "L-O-V-E."
At the same time, clips were playing of some of Elton's greatest
performances over the
years, including his famous 1973 show at the Hollywood Bowl; the Elton
John Week in L.A. in 1975, capped off by his incredible show at
Dodger's Stadium; as well as his amazing free concert in Central Park
in 1980 when he dressed up as Donald Duck.
Elton then returned to the stage in a new outfit and thanked
everyone for coming and supporting him for all these years. He then
dedicated his final song to everyone in the room that night who was in
love, and I couldn't miss his unmistakable wink toward Ryan and me as
started in on his trademark ballad, "Your Song."
As soon as he finished the last chords of "Your Song," Elton said a
"thank you" to the audience and was off the stage in a flash. Ryan and
I just sat there in stunned silence, trying to come down from the
spectacular journey we had been taken on. Ryan may have thought I was
good, but I was glad that he had the chance to see what a true rock and
roll legend could do. Elton had a charisma about
him that could just leave an audience absolutely spellbound. And that
was the effect he had on us that night. There were literally no words
to describe how incredible it had been. One of my
dreams had been fulfilled. But there was still one more dream that I
hoped to have fulfilled that
night when we got back to our hotel, and since Ryan seemed to be in a
much better mood after the concert, I figured tonight would be the
But as we walked into the hotel and passed the bar, I heard the
unmistakable sounds of a piano being played, and the noises of a packed
room. Being so wired after just coming back from the concert, I
couldn't resist. So I asked Ryan to come in with me for a minute, and I
walked right over to the guy playing the piano and asked if I could cut
in for a couple minutes. He seemed happy to have a break, and I was
giddy at the thought of actually "performing" in Las Vegas ... even if
it was just at the bar in the lobby of a Holiday Inn.
Most people would probably be terrified of sitting down in a room full
of complete strangers and performing. It didn't bother me at all. In
fact, it was one of the few things that actually made me calm. It was
rather odd, because the thought of having to interact with people I
didn't know, much less actually talk to them, was frightening. And I
didn't like people to
notice me, either. I had always preferred to melt into the background.
But there was something different about sitting behind a piano that
cast away all of the fears and doubt.
As I sat down at the black Steinway baby grand piano -- the first time
in a long time that I hadn't played on a digital piano -- and adjusted
the microphone, I took a quick glance around the crowded bar, noticing
the slightly perplexed faces of the customers, who were no doubt
wondering what some random teenager was doing there. But I was going to
show them, and I had the perfect song to play -- Elton John's "Holiday
Inn," an upbeat, folksy number about life on the road. It was a
relatively short song, with a really great chorus.
Slow down Joe,
I'm a rock and roll man
I've twiddled my
thumbs in a dozen odd bands
And you ain't
seen nothing till you've been
In a motel, baby,
like the Holiday Inn ...
The applause from the audience was also mixed with a tinge of laughter
at the reference to the hotel where we were all staying. It was a good
feeling, but I hadn't come here to put on a concert, just to fool
on the piano for a few minutes. So after thanking the house piano
player, I made my way back out of the bar, with Ryan in tow. There was
more important business to attend to this evening.
Despite the bottle of sparkling grape juice that Ryan had ordered from
room service, and the romantic atmosphere cast by the candles and
incense that he had lit around the room, nervousness was what I was
feeling when I found myself lying
naked on the bed next to Ryan, with him holding a tube of K-Y Jelly
that we had bought at a drugstore we found while we were out shopping
"Are you sure you're ready for this, babe?" he asked.
"Yeah, I'm sure," I replied, hoping I sounded more confident than I
But I needed to do this. I wasn't going to let what happened to me keep
me from being able to love my boyfriend. I had mentioned my plan to Dr.
Frazier shortly before the trip, and although he thought that it still
might be a little too soon, I was determined to go through with it. It
was my body, after all.
As I lay on my back, with my legs spread apart and knees
pulled up to my chest, I prepared myself for the inevitable. But
instead of jumping right into the main event, Ryan started off by
gently lapping at my nearly hairless balls, while his hands rubbed my
chest and his fingers teased my erect nipples. He then moved down to my
hole and proceeded to feast hungrily, driving me into an
absolute frenzy as his tongue probed deeper and deeper.
After a good fifteen minutes of giving me perhaps the best ass-licking
life, Ryan sat up again, and I watched intently as he carefully
the cap of the lubricant and squeezed a generous amount into the palm
of his hand. He then smeared it all over his already hard dick, before
squeezing some more onto his index finger and rubbing it around my
hole. I winced slightly as his finger slowly entered me, but as soon as
he touched that magical spot inside of me, the pain and fear were
quickly replaced by pleasure.
He worked his finger in my ass slowly for several minutes, and I
focused on controlling my breathing, something that I'd learned when
Cody had taught me
If only Cody could see how I was
applying his lesson now! I thought to myself.
He then worked a second finger into my hole and continued his
ministrations for a while longer. When I felt like I was ready, I
to Ryan, and
watched with anticipation as he kneeled between my legs and aimed his
thick cock at my hole. His expression was focused, with his tongue
sticking slightly out of his mouth, just like when he was doing his
homework. It was definitely cute.
I winced slightly again as I felt the large head of his cock make
contact with my hole and begin pressing against me, but I kept focusing
on my breathing, waiting for the inevitable. He pushed again harder ...
but nothing happened. He tried one more time, wincing a little himself,
but still nothing. It wouldn't go in.
"It won't go in, babe," he said gently. "You're too tight."
Shit! This definitely wasn't working like I had seen in the porn we had
watched together on Ryan's computer. I'd seen guys with much bigger
dicks than Ryan fucking guys smaller than me. How could it not go in?
"Try again, and push harder," I urged him.
"I don't wanna hurt you, babe," he said.
"Well, it's gonna hurt no matter what," I retorted. "Just try again,
and I'll try pushing out at the same time, like it said on that
With that, I felt the head of his cock pressing against my hole once
again, and I pushed out like I was trying to take a dump. After about
thirty seconds of straining on both our parts, the head finally popped
in, and I yelped in pain.
"Babe, are you okay?" Ryan asked.
"Yeah, just don't move for a second," I told him, trying my best to
hold back the tears. I was going to go through with this, but it hurt,
After several moments, I nodded at Ryan to continue, and he began to
press in again slowly. I felt a searing pain shooting through my
entire ass as he inched deeper and deeper. I thought my whole body was
going to split in half, and was starting to wonder if I could really do
"It's about halfway in, babe," he said, looking at me worriedly.
"Just hold it for a minute," I said through gritted teeth. Goddamn motherfucking sonofabitch, it hurt!
Finally, the pain began to subside, and I told Ryan to move in further.
I eventually felt his pubic hair brushing against my balls and knew he
was all the way in. I did it! I really did it! The pain was getting
less and less, and I urged him to go on. As he pulled out slowly and
then pushed back in, I felt the most intense sensation of pleasure
the length of my spine, and a loud moan escaped my lips. What I had
expected to be a
slightly uncomfortable experience at best was beginning to feel
I wrapped my legs around Ryan's waist and put my hands on the back of
his neck, pulling him down to kiss me, as he continued moving slowly in
and out of me. As our tongues danced together, I moved my right hand
down to cup his ass, urging him to thrust faster and harder. As he
began to quicken the pace, I found that my hips were involuntarily
bucking upwards to meet his thrusts, as I tried to shove my tongue as
far into his mouth as possible. Fortunately, the kissing helped to
stifle my loud moans, otherwise the people staying next door would
undoubtedly have heard me.
Needless to say, being sixteen-year-old boys, our stamina wasn't very
good. Within minutes, I felt Ryan's body began to tense up, and I
knew from the way he was furrowing his eyebrows that he was close to
cumming. I reached down and started rapidly jacking off. I then felt
his entire body convulse and could feel his hot
cum shooting against the walls of my ass, deep inside. The thought of
that alone was enough to drive me over the edge, and I soon felt my ass
clamping down involuntarily on his cock, eliciting a deep moan from
Ryan, and shot my own load all over my chest.
Totally spent, Ryan collapsed on top of me, and we just lay there,
trying to catch our breath, his cock still buried deep inside of me. I
had never imagined that making love could feel that incredible. Not
just the physical sensations, but the emotional ones as well. It felt
like he was showing me he loved me with every inch of his body. It was
more meaningful than words could ever convey. My whole body was
trembling in the aftermath, and I just felt ... quivery. I felt like I
wanted to cry, the emotions were just so intense. But I thought that
might be a little too wussy, so I forced myself to hold it back. The
thing that surprised me the most, though, was that I hadn't freaked out
at all! Sure, it hurt like hell at first, and was a bit awkward, but I
didn't have a panic attack or anything.
Eventually, as our breathing returned to normal, Ryan pulled out of me,
and I suddenly felt empty. I would have preferred him to stay inside
of me, but I supposed all good things must come to an end. After
me softly on the forehead, he went into the bathroom to clean up, and I
just lay there, basking in the afterglow. If I'd had a cigarette then,
I probably would have smoked it. I just felt so ... WOW! And the thought that there
were millions of little Ryans swimming around inside of me right then
made my heart flutter. It was like he was a permanent part of me now. I
was probably overanalyzing things, or maybe just being overly
sentimental, but I didn't care at that moment. I
was in heaven.
After returning from the bathroom with some tissues to wipe the
excess lubricant off my ass for me, Ryan climbed into bed and we
snuggled up closely. My whole body was still trembling.
"Are you okay, babe?" he asked.
"Yeah ... I mean ... I'm better than okay ... that was so ... wow ...,"
I stuttered like an idiot.
"No bad feelings or anything?" he prodded gently.
"No, I felt fine. My shrink said it might be too soon, but it felt
perfect," I cooed, wrapping my arms even more tightly around him.
"You can be on top next time," he said.
"Not unless you really want to," I replied, running my fingers across
his smooth chest. "I mean, I really liked it that way. I liked feeling
you inside of me. I guess that makes me a bottom."
He chuckled. "Whatever you want, babe. It felt really nice being inside
of you. I never imagined it could be that way. I'm really glad that
you're the one I lost my virginity to."
His comment about "virginity" suddenly brought a not-too-pleasant
thought into my mind. I wasn't exactly a virgin ... although not by
"Ryan, do you think we should have used a condom?" I asked, feeling
rather awkward. "I mean, you may have been a virgin, but ... you know
... I'm not."
Surprisingly, I wasn't so much ashamed that I wasn't a virgin ... I
just didn't want Ryan to catch something from me, even though Maggie
that man had worn a condom when I was raped, and they'd given me an HIV
test. But I knew from health class that there was something called a
window period where HIV wouldn't be detectable in the body.
"I don't think we have to worry about HIV or anything, babe,"
Ryan said, brushing the hair away from my eyes. "I talked about it with
my mom, and she told me that she'd also ordered something called a
'viral load test' while you were in the hospital. She said that it's
much more accurate than the
regular HIV tests. You'll still have to get a regular test in a few
months to make sure, but it just didn't sound like there's going to be
a problem. I'm not worried." He paused, looking a little embarrassed.
"I guess we should have mentioned it to you, but my mom didn't want you
to be worrying about it, with everything else going on."
I hadn't really been worried about HIV or anything until tonight. I
guess it had slipped my mind. But now that I was thinking about it, I
really wished we'd talked about it before. However, it was over
and done with, and the important thing was that it seemed like I was
safe, and so was
Ryan. And we'd just had sex together for the first time, and I didn't
freak out. That was enough to put me totally at ease. I ended up slept
like a baby that night, melting
completely into my lover's arms.
The next two days were pretty jam-packed with activities, such as a
trip to the "Adventuredome" amusement park, which took up nearly half
of our second day in Las Vegas, riding the roller coasters and other
rides, eating over-priced food, and just walking around and enjoying
the sights and sounds. I'd never been to an amusement park before, so
it was quite an experience for me. Ryan told me that Cedar Rapids was a
lot more fun, and promised to take me there over the summer.
On our third and final day, we hit the "Elvis-A-Rama Museum," where
they had all kinds of cool Elvis Presley memorabilia, such as three of
his cars, tons of jewelry he'd worn, clothing from movies he'd been in,
other personal artifacts. We also went to the "Shark Reef" and the
"Guinness World Records Museum." By the time we got back to the hotel
that evening, I was beat. Ryan and I hadn't made love since that first
night, since I was feeling a little sore the day afterward, and tonight
we were both dead tired. So after ordering a couple club sandwiches
from room service for a late-night snack, we went right to bed, since
we had a flight to catch the next morning to go back home.
I'd had an amazing time on the trip, and it really was nice to get away
for a few days. I'd never had a proper vacation before, and as
relaxed as I felt after those three days, I could tell that I'd
definitely needed it. Ryan seemed to be in a good mood, too, so I hoped
wouldn't end up having any more disagreements like we'd had before the
The flight back home was much like the flight to Las Vegas -- meaning I
slept the whole way again. When we finally landed at the airport and
got off the plane, I was ecstatic to see Maggie and Toby waiting for
us. Toby looked very tired, but other than that, he seemed okay.
Maggie also had a big smile on her face. As soon as I spotted them, I
ran as fast as I could and practically jumped into Toby's arms. I'd
missed him so much. Ryan took his time walking over to us, but he also
gave Toby and his mom hugs, and put his arm around my shoulder as we
walked out of the airport to go home.
It was a beautiful, clear, and
slightly cool Saturday afternoon in April, but I was on edge, and the
throngs of people at the
Spring Fair did nothing to calm my nerves. It wasn't bad
enough that I still couldn't deal with large groups of people,
especially other teenagers. What made it even harder for me to get in
the mood to
perform was that Toby couldn't be there.
Ryan had brought his camcorder so Toby could see my performance later
(and this would actually be the first time I'd ever be able to see
myself on tape), but I would rather have Toby be there himself ... and
But I loved to perform. I lived for being up on that stage. So I would
take it any way I could get it.
Today was Toby's first day of chemotherapy. And while I guessed that
was good, since it was meant to help him, I knew it
would also make him really sick. I was worried about how I would
handle that. How was I supposed to take care of him? Would he even want
me to? Would it upset me or gross me out if he was puking all the time
and lost his hair? Worrying about that kind of stuff made me feel even
worse about it, too, because I knew how insensitive that was. He was my
"brother," after all, and I needed to love and support him, no matter
But regardless of my mood and anxieties, I still had a show to do. And
dislike of getting involved in school activities, even I had to admit
that this was for a good cause. The fear I saw in Mikey about his own
coming out made me realize that our school having a GSA was important,
so I would do my best to put on a great show. Mikey was there that day
with his parents, and I'd noticed how uncomfortable he looked. He
didn't come anywhere near the GSA booth or any of his friends from the
club. It pissed me off that he had to live like that, and that just
encouraged me to do an even better job. I would do this show for him.
Our GSA advisor, Miss Oh, had warned us of the possibility of some
protests from some parents and kids who had been opposed to the
school's formation of the GSA. The most vocal had been the
school's Young Christian Club, which had their own booth at the
fair, where they were passing out booklets about the impending "Second
Coming" and "family values" or some crap like that. Fortunately,
however, none of that had materialized, perhaps
because Officer Karen, the school's police liaison officer, had set
herself up right by our booth. Even the most ardent of Christian
fundamentalists would have been stupid to go up against her.
All of the various school clubs had set up their own booths with games
and food for the fair. The GSA booth was handing out pamphlets on what
GSA was all about, as well as information on other groups, such as
PFLAG, for the parents of gay kids. They had also erected a wooden
stage near the booth, and the "techie" kids, who usually did the lights
and sound for the school musicals, had already set up the Kurzweil
digital piano and hooked up the amplifiers and microphone. I wasn't
going to be putting on a full concert, though, just playing a few songs
of my choosing.
I had wanted to buy a new outfit for the performance, but Ryan had
talked me out of it, saying that I couldn't buy new clothes for every
performance I did, or I'd end up wasting all of my money. But ever
since I'd been able to actually start wearing nicer things, I almost
couldn't help myself when it came to clothes shopping. Fortunately, I
had Ryan to keep me in check, and I ended up choosing to wear my black
suit, silk magena shirt, a black Nehru hat, and pink tinted glasses
with thick black frames. I
had managed to buy a new earring, though -- a dangly, garish gold
crucifix. I was kind of hoping that would piss off the Christian
Promptly at three o'clock, Natalie, the president of the GSA, got up on
stage to talk briefly about the GSA and introduce the performance. When
she was finished with her little speech, I took my cue and walked up
the stage to a reasonably loud round of applause, although nothing like
what I had received at the talent show or my weekly performances at the
pub. But people from all over the fair had gathered around,
making for a pretty large audience, and it felt great to be on stage
again. Ryan, Cody, the twins, Natalie, Tuwanda, and Delcondris were all
right up front, and they were definitely the loudest members of the
audience, hooting and whistling so much that I was feeling quite
I bowed briefly to the audience before sitting down at the digital
piano and adjusting the microphone. I then dove right in to two classic
rockers to get the audience riled up, "Mercury Blues" and
Warren Zevon's "Lawyers, Guns and Money," followed by T. Rex's
"Children of the Revolution," which allowed me to test out the upper
limits of my vocal range. What I had originally envisioned as just a
short performance was now turning into a full-fledged concert, with
people singing along and clapping to the rhythm.
got to make good use of the Kurzweil's excellent
synthesizer and MIDI effects. I had fallen in love with digital pianos
for just that reason, being able to add a lot more to my solo
performances, something I couldn't get out of a regular piano. To keep
the crowd going, I then immediately started in on Billy Joel's
"Stiletto," which I introduced by saying, "We still love you, Eleanor!"
into the microphone, and making goofy faces at the crowd during the
entire song. That earned a few chuckles from everyone.
After a polite round of applause from the audience, I moved on to some
songs that were a bit more fitting for the occasion. I started with
Melissa Etheridge's powerful and moving song, "Silent Legacy," which
dealt with the fear, pain, and confusion of coming to terms with one's
in a less than accepting society. It was my first time performing that
song, and I had never even heard it before until about a week earlier,
Cody mentioned it to me. I had decided immediately that it would be
perfect for the
GSA performance. The angst-filled melody and lyrics captured what I
imagined so many young gay people probably had to go through every day.
And it was Mikey I was thinking about as I sang my heart out.
Your body is alive
But no one told
you what you’d feel
The empty aching
Trying to conceal
Is the coming of
But they cover it
And turn it into
And as you pray
in your darkness
For wings to set
You are bound to
your silent legacy
You are digging
for the answers
To satisfy the
To satiate the
They feed you on
To keep you
humble, keep you low
Some man and myth
they made up
A thousand years
And as you pray
in your darkness
For wings to set
You are bound to
your silent legacy ...
I then moved on to Elton John's "American Triangle," a haunting tribute
Matthew Shepard, the young gay man who had been beaten to death in
Wyoming, and then another Elton song, "The Ballad of the Boy in the Red
Shoes," a moving song about AIDS in the early eighties, when the Reagan
administration had failed to take the disease seriously, leading to an
untold number of unnecessary deaths and creating a social stigma
against HIV/AIDS that has existed until the present day. All three
were very emotional, and I put everything I had into my piano playing
and vocals, almost moving myself to tears a couple of times.
After another polite round of applause and a quick "thanks" to the
audience, I started on my final two songs, Bob Dylan's gentle yet
"Love Minus Zero/No Limit" and John Lennon's "Imagine." Was the
loving and peaceful Utopia that John Lennon sang about possible? I
certainly hoped so. But as soon as I was finished with my performance,
I quickly got my
things together and headed home. I didn't want to hang around there any
more, plus I wanted to see if Toby was home yet and find out how he was
was going to learn how to do this whole "supportive" thing, with Mikey and Toby.
When I arrived back home, Maggie was in the kitchen fixing dinner, and
told me that Toby was upstairs in his bedroom. I immediately headed
upstairs to see him, and was a little stunned when I got to his room
and saw how horrible he looked. He was covered in sweat, his complexion
was very pale, he looked more exhausted than I'd ever seen him, and
he'd obviously been throwing up, based on the pail that was placed next
to his bed and the faint odor of vomit in the air.
"How are you feeling, Toby?" I asked, as I walked into his room.
"Not so hot," he replied hoarsely. "Actually, I feel like shit."
"Is there anything I can do for you?" I asked him.
"Just stay with me for a while," he replied. "I'm kinda lonely."
"Sure, bud. No problem," I said, walking over to the bed and sitting
down next to him.
For the next couple hours, we just sat there and watched some DVDs, and
I had to smack him on the back a few times as he puked into the pail,
so that he wouldn't choke. He really was a mess, and I didn't know what
to do to make him feel better. I also got him a cool washcloth to wipe
him down with since he was sweating so much. It was kind of hard to
imagine that the medicine that was supposed to cure him could actually
make him even sicker.
Ryan stopped in briefly to say hi when he got home from the fair, but
didn't stay long to chat. Cody came by that evening as well to see how
Toby was feeling, but he didn't stay long either. I wondered if it was
it was difficult for him to see Toby that way, or because Toby wasn't
up to having visitors. But after Cody left, Toby asked me to come back
and sit with him, which I gladly did. That was pretty much all I could
do, though ... just sit there. He didn't feel like talking much, and I
didn't know what to say anyway. I knew telling him something like
"You'll be fine"
would just sound empty and meaningless, because he obviously had a hard
road ahead of him if he had to go through this every week
for who knew how long.
Sunday was more of the same, with me spending most of the day in Toby's
room, watching DVDs and just lying next to him on his bed, occasionally
helping him out when he needed to throw up or wiping him down with a
cool wash cloth. Maggie had to work, so I kind of felt like it was my
responsibility to look out for him, and Ryan pretty much stayed in his
room doing his homework and playing video games.
I was a little disturbed that Ryan didn't think it was necessary to
help out with his brother. It's not like I minded doing it. I loved
spending time with Toby and was happy to help in any way I could. But
I couldn't understand how Ryan, who had always been so protective of
Toby, suddenly seemed so withdrawn and distant at a time when his
brother needed him the most. I
didn't think it was right, but we'd gotten into an argument the last
time I tried to bring it up, so I just decided to leave it alone.
When it came to how he acted toward me, though, nothing had changed. He
was just as sweet and caring as ever, which made me even more confused.
Was he jealous of Toby or something? Ryan knew that I loved him, and
that Toby was just like a younger brother to me. We'd been through this
before. But if he was upset about my doting over Toby while he was
sick, I would have expected that he would act weird around me or
something, but he didn't. It was all just really strange.
Fortunately, by Sunday evening, Toby seemed to be doing a bit better.
Although Maggie suggested that he stay home from school on Monday,
Toby insisted on going, since he said he had to learn to get used to
it. I wished he would have stayed home, too, but it was his body, after
all. Nevertheless, I promised Maggie that if he was having a tough time
at school, I'd bring him right home. I didn't want him
to get any sicker than he already was.
"Thanks for staying with me this weekend," Toby said that night before
I headed off to bed.
"You don't have to thank me, Toby," I insisted. "You know I'd do
anything for you. I love you, bud."
"I love you, too, Connor," he said with a smile.
Unfortunately, I wasn't so sure that love would be enough to cure Toby
of the cancer that was eating away at his body. It was going to be a
hard several months, and I was hoping that not only Toby would make it
through all right, but that I would as well. But even though Ryan
hadn't been very helpful or supportive so far -- which still completely
baffled me -- at least I knew that Cody would be around, and I was
certain that he would also be able to give Toby lots of tender loving