Disclaimer: If explicitly sexual gay fiction is illegal where you live, or if you are under 18 years of age, read no further, because that's what this is.

Do not copy, charge for, or distribute this material without my (the author's) permission.

In other news, I'd like to thank my editor Mac (you can find his stories here: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/DesertMac_Forum/files/) for all his awesome work on this story.

And please e-mail me with suggestions, comments, mean criticisms, questions, or whatever else at fortunateson_87@yahoo.com.

There's no sex in this chapter, but there will be sex in chapter two. So stay tuned.


Chapter One

All I wanted was to get high. I just wanted to get some coke and get high. My body was demanding a cocaine fix at the worst time. I was flat broke. It was January 25th, 1987, a Sunday morning, about 10 a.m. After figuring out where I was and what went on last night, I thought about where Dana, my very rich girlfriend, might be. After pacing around the hangout I passed out at the night before and rattling my brain for a few minutes, I gave up and sat down in a big armchair. Then it hit me.

'Oh yeah. She's giving birth to my kid (insufficient exit plan). Sooo... She'll probably be at the hospital.'

I got into Dana's car and headed down there to sucker my girlfriend into giving me some cash. I had no idea what a society girl like Dana saw in me-- aside from me being a total stud --but I knew what I saw in her: a 5'3" lipstick wearing ATM who gave semi-decent head, after I coached her.

In a little over 15 minutes, I was asking a receptionist for "Carnegie" and she directed me to room 504. Off I ran up the stairs (couldn't wait for the elevator) to put the moves on Dana, thinking of what lines I'd use to hustle her this time. I entered the room, and there she was in the hospital bed with a tiny infant in her arms and her family standing around her, looking at me, staring at me, completely silent. Hostile. If I'd given a shit what they thought, I might've been intimidated.

I spoke up first. "Hello, everyone. Dana. How are you?"

I was surprised that Mr. Carnegie had taken time off from his precious work to attend his illegitmate grandson's birth. He raged, "You little shit--" pointing at me like I would cower away or something.

"Daddy, please!" Dana interjected, bringing uncomfortable silence to the room again.

I spoke directly to Dana, "Hey. Can we talk? Alone?"

"Sure," she answered meekly.

Her dad yelled again, "Of course not! Tell him to get the hell outta here! Right now!"

"Dad, Aaron deserves a chance to explain," she pleaded.

I nodded and cracked, "She has a point there, Mr. Carnegie."

He caved in to his princess's wishes, as always, muttering angrily, "Wise-ass," on his way out with the rest of the clan following.

I shut the door and walked cautiously to Dana's side, starting with my `concerned Val' approach, "So... How are ya?"

"Val!" Val is my nickname. I'll explain later. "Where were you? Do you have any idea how embarrassing it was to not have you here as I was giving birth to our child?" She motioned with her eyes at the baby she held in her arms. "I didn't even know where you were, Val! Do you have any idea how that made me feel? Do you even care?"

"Of course I care, baby." I've always been good at sounding genuine when I wanted something. It's no less than necessary for a guy like me. "Of course I care. Please don't ever doubt that. I'll prove it to you! I will. But, not right now. I can't right now, babe. Ya see, the thing is, right now I need some money." She groaned, having heard it so many times before. "No, baby, listen."

"Val, that's terrible. You leave me alone in my pain. You come here and disrespect my father. You don't bother to ask about our newborn baby. And on top of all that you ask for money. What do you need it for?"

"Come on, Dana. You know what I need it for. Don't make me say it."

"God, Val. You have to kick this habit. If my father knew, he'd--"

"Dana, I know. But right now I need money."

"But the sooner you stop, the easier it'll be. You're going to be a father, Val. You are--"

"Damn it, Dana! I don't have time for this!" I yelled as I placed her purse on the side table expectantly.

She started crying a little. "Okay, Val, okay. Just calm down. We can talk about this tonight." After a moment, she looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, "Would you mind holding our son while I get you your drug money?"

I didn't want to hold him but I did really want the money so the choice was easy. "Uh, okay." I picked him up out of Dana's arms, holding the right side of his body to my chest and stepped back waiting for Dana to navigate through her purse to find some money for me.

I was named Aaron Valentine (somewhere along the way, the nickname caught on because of my natural charm) Cromwell on February 14th, 1969. I was disowned on February 21st, 1969. Having no example of actually connecting with anyone, ever, I could never have expected what happened next.

The little tyke raised his left arm straight up into the air, curled his hand into a fist and plunged it into my chest like some six pound, four ounce ninja. He took hold of my heart so tightly that my body couldn't get any oxygen, literally taking my breath away. I stumbled back into a chair, still holding him securely in my arms. I was reeling from the shock of what this tiny creature had done to me with such ease.

I heard someone ask, "How much do you need?"

He still had my right forefinger in his miniature fist, squeezing and releasing. His little, but tight, grip made me realize how small he was. I realized how much he actually needed me to protect him. And just like that, I realized I was a father. I would have smiled but I was scared out of my mind. I wasn't even a legal adult yet and I was a father. Somehow, I hadn't realized it until that very moment.

When I could breathe again, I responded, "What's his name?"

"I haven't decided yet. I was waiting for you." Silence as I gazed at his face, in awe. "Are you thinking about staying?"

"I dunno," I distractedly mumbled, staring into his hypnotizing blue eyes. He smiled at me. 'Shit.'

My mind raced, 'Ohhh, man. This isn't in my plan. I can't have this. I never wanted this. This isn't right... But it feels right. No it doesn't!... Yes, it does... That doesn't matter. You have to survive. You only have yourself to rely on. No one ever watches out for anyone except theirselves.'

"Please, Val. Please stay. It would mean so much to me, and to my family. My dad would like that. Well, at least he wouldn't hate you more than he already does."

"I don't know."

'The reasons to not do this are endless. Committment is weakne-- He needs me though. So?! You don't love her! Of course not, but, I think I love him. Fuck that! Be reasonable. You just met him. Take money and find a new chick to exploit.'

"Val, please. You could help me decide on his name."

"All right then." I scowled at myself for giving in to this insanity. Then I looked back down into those eyes. I just couldn't say no to him, to those eyes.

"Oh, thank you so much, Val. This means--"

"Any idea what to name 'im?"

"Well, I think you could gain some favor with my dad by naming our son after him. We need his help, you know." Her dad had all sorts of money. And I had none. That old man was even richer than he was conservative, and that's saying something.

"Yeah, but Winfield? Dana, unless we want our son's ass kicked on a regular basis... No way. What's your dad's middle name?"


"All right then. Nathan. Nathan Aaron. When can you get outta here?"

"Now. Get my dad and we'll get ready." On the way to Dana's I was totally set on spending the day with my son, Nathan... Nate. I wanted to take care of him every waking moment which, from what I'd been told, I'd have many waking moments. I was so fucking excited, and scared... but excited.

But things didn't work out as I'd hoped. The Carnegies' maid had taken a message for me from a guy named Nelson. He left his name only but I knew what it was about. I owed him money and my debt was well overdue. Some fast thinking and well developed street smarts snapped into action. I knew I had to pay the guy but I also knew that leaving now, and taking money with me, would be the proverbial last straw. Dana had Nathan in her arms, feeding him, and everyone was crowded around her. There were six of them plus Dana and Nathan. Mrs. Carnegie's purse was on the kitchen counter, unattended. I took her check card. I already knew Dana's parents' PINs, having found them in her purse (innocent browsing, of course). I headed out to an ATM, yelling I'd be back later on my way out the door.

About 5 hours and $700 later, I was back at the Carnegies' huge house. I went to the door, let myself in and walked up the stairs to Dana's room. I entered and closed the door behind me.

"Bastard," she shot at me. "Don't even try to explain. Just leave."

I did neither. I just walked over to her, pulled out a small, black box and gently said, "Marry me," as I opened the box, revealing a $300 engagement ring. Of course, she started crying and apologizing for calling me a bastard and immediately accepted. Mrs. Carnegie apparently never noticed the $700 withdrawal since she spent that in seconds at specialty boutiques almost daily.

For the next fifteen years, I didn't touch any drugs, not even pot.

'Another day, another dollar,' I thought as I woke up and turned off my beeping alarm clock, which read "Fri 6-11-03" in green. I showered and dressed then went to wake up the kids.

I walked by my daughter's door and knocked, asking "Kayla, you up?" Kayla, my daughter, is almost exactly nine months younger than my son. Ain't that somethin'? Condom failure.

"Yes, Dad."

"Good. Hurry up."

Nate has a pretty nice room, if plain. Looking in from the door, the head of his bed is up against the wall on your right; straight ahead are a computer, a desk and two windows overlooking our front yard and driveway; and a couch and entertainment center are to your left.

I knocked on his door, then opened it. As I leaned in to flip the light switch I could hear him rustling around wildly in his bed. His lamp was already on, so I was able to see him stuff a small piece of paper under his pillow. I turned the light on and said, "Nate, quit foolin' around. Time to get ready for school."

By then he'd covered his entire body, neck down, with his blanket. His face reddened through his tan and he was breathing heavily. He stammered, "Oh, sorry, Dad. Uhh, I was just--"

"It's okay. Just hurry up. Can't be late."

"All right. I'm coming."

"Yes, I can see that."

"Dad!" he whisper-shouted.

I laughed, "Don't be so shy. It's incredibly obvious what you're doing, you know."

"Dad! You're embarrassing me! Please leave!"

"What technique are you using? The full fist grip or just thumb and fingers?"

I suppressed a laugh as he wrapped the blanket closer around himself and quietly yelled, "Stop it!"

"Fine, fine," I chuckled as I closed his door and went downstairs to the kitchen.

I sat at the breakfast table to read the newspaper, the regular morning routine. A few minutes later, Nate came in wearing gray sweat pants. "Hey, Champ. Get me some cereal too. You ready for your last day of school?"

"Hell yeah, Dad! I'm gonna rock my exams!" He'd obviously recovered from the morning's awkwardness.

"Atta boy! Whatcha got today?"

"Theater and chemistry."

"Sounds like just tons of fun. Hey, Kayla. What do you have today?"

"Why are you asking?" she snapped. "You know what I have. I have the same thing everyday." Kayla went to some magnet school for math crap.

"Oh, sweetie, I'm asking because I know how much it irritates you, of course." She grumbled in frustration, making me laugh.

"Mom, can I stay at Becky's house tonight?" Kayla asked her mother as she walked in. "Her mom can pick us both up."

"Uhh, sure, honey. Oh, which reminds me, Nate, you have a ride home, right?

"Yeah, mom. Scott's home from college. He'll take me and Keith home." Keith has been one of Nate's best friends since they were 6 or so. Scott, Keith's brother, has been a co-worker of mine during Summers for the past two years so I'd gotten to know him a little.

"Oh, are you sure Scott won't mind?"

Nate laughed just a little bit and I could tell he was holding back a smirk. "Oh, yeah, mom. No problem there. He'll be more than happy to do it." I had no idea what that meant but I soon forgot all about it.

"Okay, hon."

After they'd inhaled their food, Nate and Kayla cleaned up and went off to their rooms to finish getting ready.

"Val, can you get off of work early today?"


"I need you to take these things over to Maureen's by 4:00, okay?" Maureen is one of Dana's friends from her church-- which I wouldn't be caught dead attending.

"What things?"

"The electric mixer, a mixing bowl and a few ingredients for a graduation party cake. I put all the ingredients into bags for her. Everything is right here on the counter. Don't forget."

"What the hell? Why doesn't she have her own mixing bowl? Is she going to give us the cake? She better give us at least some of it if we're giving her a bunch of ingredients that we paid for. Maybe, before I deliver it directly to her home at her convenience, I should just go ahead and bake it for her too."

"Christ! Please don't argue just this once!"

"I'm not arguing. I'm just sayin': you have needy friends."

She rolled her eyes in exasperation. "So will you do it or not?"

"Yeah, I'll try."

Nate came back into the kitchen some 15 minutes later, and asked, "Ready Dad?"

"Yeah, let's go." I always took Nate to school and Dana always took Kayla just because our work places happened to be on the way to their respective schools.

I dropped Nate off at school and then went to work. I'm in construction. The pay isn't great but I do okay and the hours aren't bad. The best part about the job is it keeps me fit. I had a good body in high school too, but now in my mid 30s, without a gym, I maintain my 6'6" jock form.

Not much of a load at work that day, so leaving early wasn't a problem. I got home a little before 3:00, took that stuff over to Maureen's, and got back at about 3:30. As I pulled my 1987 Dodge Ram pick-up truck into the driveway, I noticed Scott's car was now parked on the side of the road.

As soon as I opened the front door, I began to hear sounds that I could tell were out of place-- sounds that I knew I shouldn't have been hearing. I walked into the foyer and stood, listening, trying to figure out where the sounds were coming from. I moved closer to the stairs, crept up a couple steps and listened harder. It sounded like only two people, but I wasn't sure. I walked the rest of the way up the stairs, all the way feeling my blood starting to boil. By the time I got to the top of the stairs, I was certain the noises were coming from Nate's room, and now I was hearing this strangely familiar sniffing noise. It was all so weird, so eerie. I felt like I was in a horror movie, about to be mauled to death by my worst fear.

I remember thinking, 'It could be nothing. They could be watching a television show. Or maybe a movie. Maybe I'll wake up in a few seconds in my warm, comfortable bed. But whatever happens, do not overreact.' I kept telling myself over and over again, 'Be calm, Val. Be calm.'

I moved slowly, sweating, heart pounding and rage rising, to his open doorway and peered in. What I saw blew all that calmness shit out the window. A bag of cocaine was sitting on Nate's desk.

I stepped into the room and what I saw then nearly gave me a coronary. Scott was lying on top of Nate. Both of them were stark naked; they were making out, hot and heavy. Nate's hands were running through Scott's long, curly, black hair. The worst of it was yet to come.

I then realized the position of Scott's left hand and middle finger: The last place on Earth I wanted it to be.

I could feel the steam coming out of my ears and the blood shooting into my eyes. I went crazy, and everything else went away. Wasting no time, I quickly moved behind the bed and yanked Scott's left arm behind his back and pulled him up by his hair, bringing a loud cry from him. I muscled him up against the wall and pinned him there with both his hands behind his back and his head against the wall which was easy since he, like most people, was so much shorter than me.

Right away, he started crying and begging me to stop and to let him explain.

I yelled at him, "Shut up! Shut the fuck up, you piece of shit!"

Nate cried, "Dad, let him go! He didn't do anything wrong!" I ignored him but his words pissed me off, that he'd defend this monster.

Scott still wouldn't quit his fucking crying and, now angered by what Nate had said, I slammed his head into the wall two, maybe four times, which shut him up good and, as an added bonus, bloodied him up good too.

"Dad, stop! Let him go!"

Now he was pulling at my arm, so I shoved him away and yelled, "Don't touch me!" without taking my eyes off of Scott, pinning him to the wall. Nate took the hint and let up.

I leaned down to speak into Scott's ear, "What's the matter with you, you sick fuck? You like messing with boys? You like fuckin' around with kids? Hmm? Is that it? Answer me! When I'm through with you, you won't even be able to fuck around with yourself, you goddamn scum." I turned Scott around to face me, keeping him against the wall with my left hand wrapped around his neck, and pulled my right arm back, clenching my hand into a fist, ready to break his jaw.

But he didn't have the look of terror on his face that I was expecting. In fact, he wasn't even struggling. He just looked concerned. He was totally limp now, looking to his right, with deep worry in his eyes. I turned to see what he was looking at and the sight hit me worse than anything else had that day, and probably worse than anything else had in my entire life. My hold on Scott fell limply away and he ran over to Nate, face down by the wall, still naked.

I was stunned in place. I couldn't believe it. I mean, I saw Nate lying there. And I remembered what had happened. But I still could not believe it. I could not believe that I had done this to Nate. I started thinking again that this must be a dream or something. I thought, 'Maybe someone came in while my focus was on Scott and did this to Nate. Maybe the cocaine... Maybe he just tripped on something, like... Like a rat ran by...?' It just didn't matter to me how bogus the notion was. In my mind, I could not have done it. No way. I was thinking, 'I don't have the ability to hurt him... Do I?' I would always be the one to protect Nate when monsters like this Scott fuck tried to hurt my baby boy

But it was slowly sinking in that it was indeed I who had done this to him. I was the monster. And that scared me. How could I protect him if I was the threat?

I walked slowly to Nate and stood looking down at him in disbelief, then cautiously knelt down next to his head. Extending my right hand to stroke his beautiful, though messy, golden blond hair, I realized I felt afraid to touch him. I wanted to make him feel better, but I wondered if I might only make it worse. I had no idea what to do, an almost unknown feeling to me.

My concern was deepening too, for both Nate and myself. Though I'd known I was gay since I was a young teenager, and though it somewhat ironically took me until I had a family to accept that, I'd never looked at my son in a sexual way before. But I suddenly couldn't get out of my mind how fucking hot my son was.

I was struck by his short and thin, mostly tan and nearly hairless body; his long legs; those round, milk white butt cheeks; such a slender, well toned back and shoulders. I thought back to those Sunday mornings when the female contingent of the house would be gone to church and he'd walk around in nothing but his tight white briefs, taking after his old man. I thought about his flat stomach and small pink nipples which I was now describing in my mind as "cute." And his best feature, which I unfortunately couldn't see at the time, was his face. It was the sweetest, most innocent looking, precious face ever. It could do no wrong, no harm; and as such, it deserved no harm. He had a little button nose, thin pink lips and his slim cheeks curved into an un-pronounced chin. His eyes always did me in. They were small, shiny blue orbs; not timid, but not courageous either; outgoing though, and definitely always searching and curious. I wondered, 'When the hell did my son become sexy?'

This is what really worried me. As if it wasn't bad enough I'd knocked him unconscious, now I was getting the erection from Hell over my son. I told myself it was from all the adrenaline, but I knew that wasn't true. It simply felt sexual, not to mention that I suddenly found it unbearably difficult to tear my eyes from his naked body.

I pulled my hand away and looked guiltily up at Scott, kneeling naked on the other side of him. I noticed his sport-toned body and more than adequate endowment, but my son's younger, tender body still held my attention.

"What do we do?" he asked as he wiped the blood away from under his nose.

"Uh... Just pick him up and lay him down on his bed."

As Scott carried Nate to his bed, he began to wake up. I was of course, extremely relieved to know he was okay.

Once he was lying on his back on the bed, he asked groggily, "Dad?"

I couldn't bear to face Nate at that moment, not after what I'd done. I told Scott, "After you're dressed, help him put some clothes on. Then you can go, but don't take the coke."

"What?! Do you know how much--"

"Scott," I warned.

He sighed, nodding, and complied.

I needed some time to think. "I'll be right back." I went to the bathroom and started washing my hands and face as I tried to sort things out in my head.

'This Scott kid... I'm not sure what I think of him. It's obvious he's givin' my kid drugs and it looks like he's been messin' around with him for at least a little while. I should have beaten him senseless by now but... Well, he did seem genuinely concerned about Nate. And Nate obviously doesn't think he's a bad guy, and Nate's not dumb enough to trust just anybody.

'Shit, though! Fuck! Why didn't he tell me he's gay? And drugs, too... I suppose he might be only experimenting, but it's so easy to lose control with that shit and find it controlling you.'

'And most importantly, why am I havin' all these sick thoughts about him? And if I'm the monster, and if I can't protect him, then who will?'

Just that morning, I had no clue that he'd been doing any more than just jacking off. There was suddenly so much about my son, as well as myself, that I didn't know.

Looking at my reflection in the mirror, I realized, 'I'm a failure. I've failed to protect him. Damn.'

I then returned to Nate's room with a wet hand towel which I used to clean Scott's blood from the wall. As I was doing so, Nate called my name again. A chill went down my spine and I reluctantly turned to look at him, feeling so damn guilty I couldn't even look him in the eyes. I tried to think how I could possibly apologize to him; how to explain...

When I couldn't put it off any longer, I walked over and sat down on the edge of his bed. Scott had already left, so it was just Nate and I. He was dressed now, sitting up and looking at me, but I just couldn't make eye contact with him. "Nate, look..." I began. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to... I..." I felt so ashamed.

"It's okay, Dad. I'm okay. I understand."

Just hearing that lifted a huge weight of guilt off me. I took a deep breath of relief and hugged him tightly.

I pulled back after a few seconds and asked him, "How's your head? Does it hurt? You feel okay?"

"Yeah, Dad. I'm fine."

I hugged him again and said, "Good."

"So... You're really not mad at me then?"

"Shit, Nate!" I yelled as I stood up. "Of course I'm mad! How stupid can you be?!" Tears immediately began flooding his eyes and he pulled his knees into his chest, burying his head between them. "How'd you let yourself get led into doing that shit? I thought you were smarter than that. What the fuck's the matter with you?!" He was sobbing heavily now, and rocking himself back and forth. Seeing him like this really broke me up but I couldn't let this pass. I was his father. I had to watch out for him. "Fuck! You could've gotten yourself killed! You understand that? You could be dead right now!" I shouted at him. He suddenly stopped crying and lifted his head a little. "And if you'd become addicted to it... Damn it, Nate. You have no idea how easily cocaine can fuck up your life." Still sniffling a little, he looked up at me. He had this wide smile on his face now. "Nate! Quit smilin'! This isn't funny!" He kept smiling. "This is serious! I am pissed! What if--"

All of a sudden he got up on his knees in front of me, threw his arms around my back and exclaimed, "I love you, Dad!" as he laid his head on my shoulder.

His abrupt show of affection melted me. I slowly hugged him back, still wondering what brought about the sudden change. "I love you too but--"

"I thought you'd hate me 'cause I'm gay," he explained.

"Oh..." I was shocked that he'd think that. "I could never hate you. I'll love you forever, no matter what." He hugged me tighter, pressing his face harder into my shoulder.


I replied, "I promise," and kissed the back of his head, sealing the deal. I felt content... but only for a moment.

"What the fuck is this?!"

Nate and I quickly pulled away from each other. "Dana!"

"What is this?!" she screamed, standing next to Nate's desk, holding the cocaine.

As I walked over to her, I said, "It's cocaine..."

She hates it when I point out the obvious, but I hate it when she asks stupid questions. "We need to have a talk," she said fimrly, then walked out the door.

"Mom!" Nate called. She ignored it. "Dad," he said with desperation.

"Don't worry, Nate. It'll be all right. I'll explain."

"Don't tell her about Scott, okay? It's not his fault. I asked for it."


"I'm sorry..."

I held my anger in check and took a deep breath. "We'll talk later," I said, and walked down the hall to my room.

The cocaine was sitting on her nightstand. Dana was standing, with her hands on her hips. "We're getting a divorce," she stated as soon the door was closed behind me.

"Dana! Don't be ridiculous! I'd never give Nate any drugs. You know that."

"Then where the hell did he get this?!"

"Look, I found him here with some other kid and he left just a little while ago."

"Who was it, then?"

"Nate asked me not to tell."

"Oh really..." she responded sarcastically.

"Jesus! Think about it, Dana. What do I have to gain by giving our son cocaine? And you'd be able to tell if I've been doing it again. I mean, I'm obviously not high right now. Be reasonable. What incentive do I have to fuck up Nate's life?"

She considered that for a moment, then dropped her arms to her sides and acquiesced, "Fine. Maybe you didn't give it to him."

"That's better. Nate's--"

"But!" she interrupted and started to cry a little and sniffle. "I... Val, I still want a divorce."

Shocked again. "What the fuck for?!"

"What do you think for? Val, I'm not happy. And neither are you."

"Yes I am!"

She rolled her eyes and responded, "If you are happy, it's not because of anything I do. I'm sorry, but I've wanted this for a long, long time. This has just finally brought it out."

"Please, Dana. You're not thinking." I tried to get close to her, to charm her, but she moved away, evading me.

"Val, stop it! I am thinking!"

In all honesty, our marriage had been, except for a few good parts, a piece of shit for the past 10 years. At that point I think she only liked me when I was fucking her and that sentiment certainly wasn't mutual. I do admit though, I always had a feeling of gratitude towards her for giving me Nathan, but I never liked her, and I suppose I treated her accordingly.

But I didn't think she'd ever ask for a divorce. It's just not done in her ultra religious, God fearing world. At least, that's what I thought. I guess I should've known though. She never paid much attention to the "sex is exclusively for procreation" thing.

Dana continued, "We're not in love! I can't keep wasting my life with you. I need to get outta here, Val. I'm sorry."

She was walking toward the door when I stopped her. "Where are you going?"

"We're gonna spend the night at my sister's house."

"What do you mean 'we'?"

"Me and the kids."

"Nate stays with me."


"I mean it! He doesn't wanna go with you."

"Well that's too bad. It's the best thing for him and we both know that."

"No way, Dana! I'm not gonna let you take him."

"Val. Let's not make this ugly."

"I won't if you just leave him with me."

"Listen, if you don't let me take him now, you could end up losing more than if you just cooperate."

"I'm okay with that."

"Even visitation rights?"

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"It means you have to choose between seeing him and not seeing him, and it all depends on what you do right now."

After pausing to think about it for a moment, I moved out of her way. It was all I could do.

Nate refused to go but I convinced him it would be just for a little while, and he reluctantly went with her.

Two days later she, Nate, Kayla and Dana's dad came back to the house to pack for a flight to California, where her parents now lived. Her dad had flown in, rented a minivan and was helping Dana pack some things before the moving trucks came.

I'd already said good-bye to Kayla that morning, and Nate and I were now in his room at 9:00 a.m. or so. He'd just finished packing and was sitting on his bed, facing the door, elbows on his knees and hands on his head. I was leaning against the wall at the head of the bed, looking at him.

After a short silence, I asked him, "Whatcha thinkin'?"

No response.

After a minute, I knew why. He got up and hugged me, crying into my chest wordlessly. Seeing him like this tore me up inside. I felt as bad as he did. I was only able to hide it because I knew he needed me to. I knew that if he had any idea how bad I felt, it'd be that much worse for him. I had to be strong for him. It's amazing what we can do when we feel we must.

The bitch came in and... Err, sorry. I meant Dana. Dana came in and announced it's time to get going in her pseudo-pleasant voice. She gets real pissy when she's on a schedule. I told her just a minute, and she went back to helping Kayla get packed.

I held him for a few more minutes and then started saying, "It's okay. It's okay, Nate. It'll be okay."

Dana called, "Hurry up, please!"

"No, Dad. It's not. It won't be okay." he sobbed. He was having a hard time even talking.

I sighed. I felt the same way. "Nate, listen. You'll get over it with time. Trust me. I have experience in these things." That was such a load of bull, but I didn't know what else to say and I'd do anything to make him feel better.

He looked up into my eyes, which I had to dodge, with a look of heartbreak I'd never seen, and cried, "No I won't, Dad! I won't get over it! Ever! I love you! And... I love you so much and... I don't want to leave, Dad. Please, Dad, please! There has to be something you can do!"

Fuck. That just wasn't right. There I was, a man of pride and strength, or so I thought. And there my son was, asking me, his father, to help him and all I could do was stand there, look at him, completely powerless. Sure, I could've fought it, but that would've done more harm than good. I figured it'd be best to let him leave now so he could begin his new life as soon as possible. Fighting it would have only delayed and agonized the situation for Nate. I had no chance of being granted custody. And really, I didn't deserve it. As much as I love him, I did know he'd be better off with his mom, with her money. I just wanted the best for him.

I felt totally defeated. "I'm sorry, Nate. You know there's nothing," I replied in a strained voice.

He just laid his head back on my chest and kept crying. I held him there and I held back my emotions.

"Come on! We can't be late!" Dana was starting to get very impatient.

"He's coming, sweetheart," I shouted. "Look, Nate. You love your mom too. She really is a good person deep down. You and I both know that. It just didn't work out between the two of us. You'll be better off with her."


"You know it's true. I can't provide for you like she can." While Dana's daddy was paying for her to go through college, I was working a labor job right out of high school. I didn't care though. It meant that at the end of every day I got to see my son.

"No, Dad. No way! I'll never believe that! I don't care about money or any of that shit! I love you, Dad!"

>From the bottom of the stairs, Dana screamed, "Val, it's time to get movin', honey!"

"Look, you love your mother too and she loves you, whether you believe it or not," I told him with a mock smile.

"But Dad--"

"Nate, I really am sorry but there's nothing we can do about it. We'll still see each other plenty often on holidays and such and hopefully during Summer when school's out, okay?" It was painful to say these words but I was doing it for Nathan. The obvious fact of the matter to both of us was that we'd hardly ever see each other anymore.

He gave me that look again and it caught me off guard. It's such an innocent, pained expression. Wide, blue eyes, his reddened face contrasting with a deep tan and blond hair, slack jaw and a searching look, that at first glance you wouldn't think it could cut you so deeply, but then you give it the chance and you regret it.

"Nate, do me a favor, okay?"

"Anything," he sobbed.

"If you ever find the love of your life, don't you dare fuck it up. Got it?" I'm sure he thought I was talking about Dana but... No. It was Nate, of course.

"But I already did!"

"Nate, for one thing, you didn't fuck anything up. This is my fault. And second, Scott's not--"

He cried, "No! Not Scott!"

"What?!" I couldn't believe it! I thought, `What?! There've been others?! How long has he been doing this?'

Tears flowing down his face, he tried to explain, "I... I... He's... Shit! I can't. It's stupid."

"Look, Nate. Whoever it is, you'll find someone else."

He pleaded again, "Please! There has to be something! Can't you try to talk to Mom?"

I had to avoid his eyes again, as I had before. I knew I had such a soft spot for him, and I couldn't afford to give in; I couldn't afford to do something stupid. "Nate, she doesn't wanna talk anymore. She's through with me. I'm sorry. Please... Just don't feel bad, and don't think that any of this is your fault, okay?"

After a moment he answered, "Yeah, Dad. Okay." He'd suddenly stopped crying and his voice had returned to normal. I guessed he just didn't want to leave crying so he was trying to 'be a man' for his dad.

I could hear Dana coming down the hall and decided it might be best to not piss her off more. Before she came in, I called, "He's on his way right now," and she turned around.

"You better get goin', Champ," I said to Nathan.

"See ya later, Dad. I love you,"

"Bye, Nathan. I love you," I whispered into his ear as we quickly gave each other a tight hug. I let go of him and he left.

I stayed in his room for a moment and then went downstairs to the big maroon front door where I watched him through a panel window. I watched him walk down the front steps, holding onto the white metal rail. I watched him walk sullenly to the rented 2002 Honda Oddyssey minivan, parked facing the street. I watched him stop to tie his left shoelace, appreciating his butt-- not appreciating my appreciation.

I watched him walk the rest of the way to the van, slide the door open, put one foot in and and then stop for a moment. He looked around, as if to see if anyone was looking at him, pulled his foot out and stepped backwards away from the van. I was worried. I didn't know what he was thinking. He looked to the back of the van where the other three were trying to figure out how to fit one last suitcase in. It was such odd behavior. He looked across the street and I suddenly realized what was up.

I opened the door and stepped out on the porch, grabbing his attention. He turned around and looked at me. I firmly shook my head and mouthed the word "no" at him. He hung his head and got inside the van. As much as I didn't want to lose Nate, it was more important he had a good life. Running away couldn't help him.

The others soon got in the van and then I watched everything good about my life drive away. He was gone. I went back inside and closed the door. I felt numb, standing in the the foyer, trying to convince myself I'd be all right but... damn it!

Damn it all. I couldn't do it. For fifteen splendid, brilliant, fantastic, revitalizing... incredibly awesome, extraordinarily magnificent and... and... profoundly sublime... fucking glorious... Ahh, damn it! I wonder, Is there any adjective powerful enough, or even a thousand adjectives powerful enough to sufficiently describe a period in one's life that transforms despair into hope, weakness into strength and a bad man into a good man? Are there any words that can do justice to the description of an immensely life changing inspiration on a selfish druggy looking out only for #1? This druggy, he didn't care if he died that night doing crack or heroin or whatever the hell else. It wouldn't make a difference to him. He just wanted to be as high as he could be as often as possible and forget everything else. Are there any words that can explain how that lost and hopeless soul became me? Me, a happy father.

As I was saying, for fifteen blissful years my life had meaning, direction, purpose. It was suddenly all gone. The reason for everything I do had been taken away from me, and now I was lost, empty. A gigantic piece of me... Exactly half of me, the good part, had been pried from the rest. And this is no clean cut. That damned crowbar of a witch just came along, shoved itself right down my throat into my heart, like she had a right to be there, took a few tugs, and on the final pull?... POP! goes my life. And then off she flew on her broom...

As destroyed as I felt, I still wasn't crying. I was searching for an escape. I didn't have time to cry. I ran up the stairs, into my room, where I hadn't been since the past Friday. I fell onto my knees in front of Dana's nighstand, dumped the coke out onto the smooth wood hunched over it with my forearms pressing onto the surface. Trembling, I put the cut straw into my nose, barely able to keep it in, and leaned over the white powder of sweet release.

'Nothing is worth this,'
I thought to myself.

I felt such tremendous pain. I was feeling a pain so intense it could force a marine to tell his captor what he wants to know, whatever it is, even if it means selling out his own country. This pain isn't meant to be experienced by humans. It's a twisted, wicked, debilitating pain. This is a pain so intense, you'd do anything to stop it. Anything. Any end to this devastating agony, you would accept.

And I did. I needed release and I got it.

The release wasn't at all what I thought it would be though. Instead of cocaine flowing through my veins, my darkened heart lit up. The pain was still with me but now there was hope as well.

I was going to take a hit, but as I neared that immediate release, I realized why I felt so bad, and the realization made me feel good. A little better anyway. Of course, it should have been obvious but, through my anguish, I couldn't see it until an instant before total meltdown.

You know how, if you get really sick after eating something, like shrimp for instance, your brain will make you feel sick whenever you even smell shrimp? It's like a natural safety mechanism. Well, as I drew closer to that diabolical powder, I kept seeing Nate in my mind over and over; his precious face and those beautiful eyes, which I just couldn't say no to. That same safety mechanism saved me. It showed me that I was feeling such pain because of Nate; because I loved him so damn much, and because he loved me so damn much. The fact is, if that pain had been a result of anything but such a powerful love, I soon would have been more addicted to cocaine than ever before in my life.

'Nathan is worth this,' I thought to myself.