The weekend after Senior Night, the twins, Natalie, Tuwanda, Delcondris
and I decided to put our little "intervention" plan into effect, and
deal with the whole Mikey thing once and for all. Ryan, however, said
he had too much homework to do and then needed to get to bed early
of his baseball game the following day. Maggie was working late again,
so I figured it would be good that someone would be home for Toby
anyway. He'd just had his chemo treatment that afternoon, and was
undoubtedly not feeling too hot.
I even managed to
convince Dominic to come along, because even though Mikey swore up and
down that he wasn't interested in a relationship right now, he needed
all the friends he could get. I didn't plan on trying to force the two
of them to get together, but I was going to try to prod Mikey to at
least be upfront with Dominic about what was going on. It wasn't fair
to leave him in the dark like that. Heck, he'd been leaving all of us
in the dark! But after enough nagging, pestering, and begging, Mikey
finally agreed to go out with us for the evening. Now, the only thing
we needed to do was
to get him to start talking.
We had all agreed to go out to a movie that Friday evening, and then a
late dinner at one of the local 24-hour diners. None of us really liked
the big-name chain restaurants, like TGI Friday's or Chili's, and there
was nothing that could beat a bacon cheeseburger, greasy French fries,
and a big chocolate milkshake from one of the local establishments.
Unfortunately, those types of "mom and pop" restaurants were
becoming less and less common.
As we pulled up in front of Mikey's house, all crowded into Delcondris'
father's Suburban, I immediately sensed that something was wrong when I
got out of the car and heard the sounds of screaming and yelling
coming from the house. Before I had made it halfway up the driveway,
the door to Mikey's house burst open, and he came barreling outside
with his backpack slung over his shoulder and a very distraught
expression on his face.
"What's going on?" I asked him, remembering all too well the day that
Ryan heard the sounds of fighting coming from my mom's trailer.
"Nothing, let's just go," Mikey mumbled, noticeably trying to hold back
We crammed into the Suburban, and according to plan, Mikey got crammed
in right next to Dominic. Dominic turned his head and blushed. Although
Mikey looked like he was about to protest for a moment, he
just sighed and slouched back in his seat, with tear streaks clearly
visible on his bright red cheeks.
Unfortunately, this was about as far ahead as I had planned for our
"Mikey Intervention." Now that someone actually had to start talking --
and it was doubtful that Mikey would just open his mouth and start
spewing out his troubles -- I had absolutely no idea what to say. I was
starting to wonder if this was a good idea, after all. Luckily, I
didn't have to say anything, because as soon as Delcondris began
backing the behemoth Suburban out of Mikey's driveway, barely missing
the mail box on the way, Tuwanda jumped right in.
"Mikey, sweetie, what the hell is going on with you?" she asked,
turning around from her position in the passenger's seat next to
Delcondris, and looking Mikey squarely in the eye.
"I said it's nothing," he muttered angrily under his breath, refusing
to make eye contact with anyone. I would have said he looked adorable
like that, kind of like a little kid who'd just been scolded, but that
obviously wouldn't have been appropriate under the circumstances.
"Don't back talk me, boy," Tuwanda chastised him. "You tell us what the
hell has been going on with you, or we ain't leavin' this car!"
"Fine!" Mikey retorted. "My parents can't stand the fact that I'm a
faggot, so I've been grounded. That means no car, no friends, no
telephone, no computer, and no going out ... anything to keep me from
having contact with anything 'gay'."
"Then how did you get out of the house tonight?" Ben asked.
"That's what all the screaming was about when you pulled up," he
replied. "My parents told me I couldn't go out, and I
told them where they could shove their stupid ass rules."
"Rock the fuck on! You go, Mikey!" Derek cheered.
Mikey glanced over at him and rolled his eyes.
"So what're you gonna do now?" I asked, finally figuring out something
"I don't know. There's not much I can do. They've never hit me or
anything like that. They just scream and yell a lot, and have basically
grounded me until I'm eighteen," he sighed. "It's been like this ever
since they found out about me, and I don't know how much longer I can
take it. Things were better for about a day after Dr. McCormack
came over and talked to them, but then they went right back to the way
they were acting before. I really wish I didn't have to go back there,
but I can't run away."
"You know you can stay with us as long as you want, Mikey," I said,
squeezing his hand.
"I know, and I appreciate it. But my parents would come get me
eventually. They like to keep up the image that they have the perfect
family with a perfect son. If I suddenly disappeared, it would make
them look bad. So, I'm stuck where I am," he said.
"Well, why don't you at least come and stay with us tonight?" Derek
chimed in. "We'll have our mom drive you home tomorrow morning, and she
can try talking to your parents again. Maybe she can say something that
will get them to lay off you for a while."
"So your parents are cool with the whole gay thing?" I asked Derek.
He chuckled. "Yeah, they're totally cool with it. They know about you,
Ryan, and Toby. They've actually been trying to get Ben to admit that
he's at least bisexual for the longest time, but he refuses to admit
That comment earned Derek a glare and a flick to his ear from his twin.
"Shut the fuck up, Derek," Ben said, sounding extremely annoyed. I'd
never seen them bicker like that before.
"Dude, just get over it. No one's gonna hate you," Derek retorted. "Mom
and Dad practically want you
to be gay or bi. Just get over yourself."
"But I'm really straight," Ben protested. "I dated Sandy Macpherson
last year. And I even banged her ... twice!"
"Keep telling yourself that long enough, and one day maybe you'll
actually start to believe it," Mikey mumbled.
"Hey, now!" Ben protested. "This was supposed to be about helping
Mikey, and now everyone's ganging up on me all of a sudden. What the
fuck is this?"
"Boys, just hush it for a while," Tuwanda jumped in. Thank God for her
timely intervention. "Mikey's going to Ben and Derek's tonight, then
their mom is gonna talk with Mikey's mom tomorrow. After we know how
that goes, we'll decide how to go from there. So, for tonight, the case
closed. And lay off poor Ben, too!"
I don't think anyone was really in the mood to argue with Tuwanda, so
we all just shut up. Mikey seemed visibly relieved that he didn't have
to go home that night. I just hoped the twins' parents could do a
better job of talking with Mikey's parents than Maggie had done.
Throughout this whole ordeal, though, I noticed that Dominic hadn't
said a word. He'd just kept staring out of the window.
We finally got to the movie theater, and it seemed like everyone was in
a much better mood. We lined up and got our tickets, and although I was
in the mood for some popcorn and yogurt-covered raisins, I
decided to hold off, so I could gorge myself on bacon cheeseburgers and
fries at the diner later.
The movie turned out to be an excruciatingly awful teen slasher flick.
I spent most of my time trying to see if anything was progressing
between Mikey and Dominic, since we'd managed to get them to sit next
to each other again. Unfortunately, they didn't seem to notice each
other's existence, which was a major disappointment for me. I really
wanted to see Mikey happy, and from the little I knew about Dominic, I
could tell that he wanted to try. Mikey was turning out to be a tough
nut to crack, though.
Dinner went pretty well, too, and I managed to wolf down two whole
bacon cheeseburgers, a large order of super greasy fries, and a
strawberry milkshake. Everyone was chatting and joking around with each
other, and the atmosphere was totally different from earlier in the
car. I was starting to feel optimistic that things would work out. I
was also kind of
glad that Ben and Derek were going to be taking over from here, because
I had enough stress as it was with things at home -- although if Mikey
continued to need my help, I would gladly give it.
Despite the whole "Mikey drama," the evening turned out to be pretty
didn't even feel bad that Ryan hadn't joined us. It was kind of fun to
hang out with everyone else, and it again confirmed for me that these
were my friends, too -- and not just Ryan's. Knowing that made it a lot
easier for me to open up and join in on all of their conversations and
jokes. It was a really good feeling. But in the back of my mind, I was
still very worried about Mikey, Toby, and Ryan. I knew that the rough
times we'd been going through for the past month were far from being
over. But at least I had my friends to help out, and I didn't have to
face things alone anymore.
After Delcondris dropped me off at home, I found Ryan watching the late
night talk shows in the living room. I was a
little surprised that it was after midnight and he was still awake,
especially since he'd said that he wanted to get to bed early because
of his baseball game the next day.
"Hey, what's up?" I asked, walking into the living room.
"Nothin'. Just waiting for you to get back," he said, glancing over at
me. "Did you have a good time?"
"Yeah, I did," I said with a smile. "The twins are gonna take care of
Mikey tonight, and then their mom is gonna go talk to Mikey's parents
again tomorrow. Hopefully things will work out."
"Cool," he said, turning back to watch Letterman's "Top 10 List."
"How's Toby doing?" I asked.
"I dunno," he said absently.
"Didn't you go check in on him at all?" I asked, a bit incredulously.
"He didn't call for help, so I'm sure he's fine," Ryan said, his eyes
still glued to the television.
Of course Toby wouldn't call for
help, even if he really needed it! I thought to myself. And Ryan
knew that. I wanted to wring his neck for not at least having gone in
to check on his brother. But I kept my angry thoughts to myself, and
instead headed upstairs to check on Toby myself.
When I got to Toby's room, I found him hovering over the pail next to
his bed, practically puking his guts out. It was not a pretty sight. I
sat down next to him on the bed and patted his back while he finished
vomiting, then helped him wipe off his mouth. I gave him some
mouthwash to get rid of the taste, which he then spit back into the
After flushing the contents of the pail down the toilet, I got a bottle
of Gatorade and a straw for Toby. I knew that he
could become dehydrated from puking so much, and that would not be
good. He didn't want it at first, but I coaxed him into drinking about
a third of the bottle, then wiped him down with a cool washcloth. He
just kept looking worse and worse, and I couldn't do anything about it.
I felt totally helpless.
We waited a few minutes to make sure the Gatorade would stay in his
stomach, then lay down together on his bed. I wrapped my arm
around him and stroked his sweat-covered hair with my other hand. His
breathing was uneven, and he was clearly in a great deal of discomfort.
"How're you doing, bud?" I asked gently.
"Not so hot. But I'm sure you already knew that," he said, managing a
"Do you want me to stay with you tonight?" I asked.
"I wouldn't want Ryan to get upset. He's your boyfriend. You should
stay with him," Toby replied.
"Well, you're my brother now, and I love you. He's not doing anything
to take care of you, so he's just gonna have to deal with it," I said.
"After everything you've been through, how have you managed to stay
such a sweet guy?" he asked.
I blushed. "I don't think I'm all that sweet."
"No, you really are, Connor," he said, giving me a quick kiss on the
cheek. "Thank you for taking such good care of me. It really hurts that
Ryan's been acting like such an ass. Sometimes I wish he'd come
and hold me like he did back when I was little. But at least you're
here now, and I'm really grateful for that."
"You're very welcome, Toby," I said, giving him a soft kiss on the
forehead. "Now try to get some sleep."