Please feel free to do anything you want with this story. I invoke no special rights over it and place it in the public domain.
I want to thank Ray for his work editing this chapter – the improvement is obvious. Needless to say, he is not responsible for any errors – that's all down to me.
If you want to contact me for any reason you can e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
There's no sex (there never will be any graphical sexual descriptions of any kind) so no warning is needed - this is suitable for younger readers.
(Note on addressing Thai people
You address a Thai person by their title and first name. The most usual title for a man or a woman is Khun. Mrs. Srisai's first name is Kulap, so she becomes Khun Kulap. But, you can also slightly less formally refer to a Thai woman as Mae plus first name.)
Dhamma-Vinaya Bums Chapter 6
The bright sun and a breath of breeze from an open dormer woke me the next morning. For a brief moment I wondered why I felt so confined before realizing that I was sharing my single bed and still wearing my clothes. The thrill of David's presence washed over me and I turned to look at him. He was curled up a little, his hands gripped together under his chin and he looked younger than his years in sleep. I brushed his hair from his forehead and kissed it. He gave a moue in response that made me laugh inwardly. I swung off the bed and stretched. I decided before anything else I wanted to get out of my clothes and shower, so I began pulling off my shirt then my pants. I was about to pull my boxers down when I heard his voice from behind me.
“You put on a good show, J,” he said quietly. I laughed and turned towards him.
“I think I'll finish in the bathroom, pervert,” I replied and I picked up a towel, clean shirt and a pair of ankle length boardies and went off to get myself clean and fully awake. When I returned David was still on my bed.
“Jakob you know it's like 6 o'clock on a Sunday morning and someone else is making breakfast. Shouldn't we get to sleep in?” he asked me smiling from beneath his half closed eyes.
“I just showered,” I responded.
“Well then you'll smell nicer anyway,” he shot back. “I could just go back to sleep alone, but it's nicer if you're here with me.” I looked at him lying there his arms behind his head, his body now stretched straight, a patch of stomach visible where his t-shirt had ridden up. I wanted to be back holding him more than anything at that moment.
“OK,” I faked a sigh, “since you obviously need the attention”. I wondered if at some point we'd need to talk about keeping it reasonably modest around here. It was one thing being naked around a boy who was one of the guys but it seemed like a whole other thing being naked around a boy you were falling in love with. I threw myself down on the bed next to him and lay my arm across his chest and he for his part turned slightly and rested his head on my shoulder.
“Yesterday was a long day, J. I feel like I could go back to sleep for the rest of the day,” David mumbled at me.
“Well, you can't D. whatever else we do we promised we'd watch the kids this afternoon. You keep getting me into things, breakfast duty, peace demos and now babysitting,” I teased.
“Hey! You got us into the peace demo! You practically railroaded me into that one,” he mock protested.
“Whatever. Anyway no breakfast duty, but what about the morning puja?” I asked.
“Nobody is gonna mind if we miss it. I don't want to miss breakfast but we can get ourselves something later. Let's just laze for a bit, OK?” he asked and wrapped his arm across my chest as if to trap me there. I took his hand and tangled it in mine and we lay there quietly enjoying the closeness for a bit. After a while we were both more than half asleep and we stayed that way until I woke up and saw the clock said 9 am. I shook David gently and we roused ourselves. David went to brush his teeth and wash up while I lay staring at the sky through the window until he got back and quickly changed his clothes. As we started to leave our room David pulled me to him and gave me a quick hug.
“Come on, he said, let's eat in the orchard and then go out on the water. We can hit the kitchen and grab some food.” We hurried downstairs and David led the way into the kitchen. Inside a small Asian woman was preparing food.
“Sawatdee ka” David said to her bowing deep. She smiled at him and came walking over her arms open.
“David. Come here and let me hug you, quick before anyone sees us!” She laughed and pulled David by the shoulders and hugged him briefly. “And your Thai is sounding good, now all we need to work on is your Pali.” David returned her hug and turned to me.
“Jakob this is Khun Kulap, Khun Kulap, this is my friend Jakob who's staying here.” She took my hand and gave me a frank up and down once over.
“Sawatdee ka, sabaidii reu?” I asked, 'Hello, how are you?' You pick up that much Thai hanging out at temples.
“O my goodness! Another one who speaks Thai! I'm very well thank you Jakob. I suppose you two want breakfast?”
“We're going outside for a bit, Mae Kulap. We'll take some fruit and juice with us,” David replied. He went to the refrigerator and took a carton of juice, some bananas and apples then took me by the arm through the kitchen out onto the lawn. The dew drenched lawn felt cool on my feet as I followed David to the orchard by the side of the house. Some of the trees were still in flower and we sat passing the carton of OJ back and forth under an apple tree, shoulder to shoulder.
When we'd finished we stood up and without speaking we walked across the lawn to the creek. David climbed into the row boat first and I followed him. He set to rowing us out across the water but instead of taking us to the island we'd visited the previous day he stopped someway upstream and threw a weighted buoy over the side.
“No one can see us out here,” he said smiling brightly. I laughed.
“You have a devious mind, D,” I replied. “But don't you think you're getting anywhere past first base!” I joked. David laughed with me.
“Hey, I'd still respect you in the morning!”
“Whatever. Cheez, guys are all the same. They just want one thing,” I sighed exaggeratedly. David slid off the bench and came and sat next to me in the bow.
“Not this guy, J. Long as I get to hold you I'm not gonna be pushing for anything else,” he said and fitted action to words by putting his arm round me and pulling me close. “I was thinking you know that we need to make sure that we act right in the vihara. I mean, do you think it's OK us cuddling up and sharing a bed like we did last night?”
I looked at him thoughtfully. The same question had crossed my mind. I remembered what Ajahn Ariyesako had said to me about leaving us to our own devices in our room. We hadn't done anything that I would be ashamed to tell him about. Embarrassed yes, but not ashamed. I explained my thinking to David and then added
“I'd really like to ask Arjun though. Do you think that would be ok? I'd find it a bit easier than talking to Thanissario or the abbot. He's younger.”
“Sure, ask him. Do you think they're going to notice how we feel about each other?” David asked me.
“D, I think how I feel about you must be written all over my face.” I leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. “I don't think I could hide it from anyone.”
“So should we tell them?” He asked.
“I think they'll work it out. I honestly don't think we need to make an announcement. Hell, I haven't even thought about telling my parents really.” David held me close and asked me,
“You're not worried are you?”
“Nah, I mean there's nothing to worry about. It's just that I don't know if I can explain you to them.” David laughed.
“Am I so weird you can't explain me?” he teased.
“Totally weird. There is no explanation for you.” I kissed him again and we lay back against the bow of the little dinghy for a long while, just enjoying the warm sunlight and the peace and quiet. I couldn't remember a time I'd felt so happy doing nothing, just being with someone.
“J,” David spoke. “Do you think it's strange that we hit it off so quickly? I mean, talking about love after we knew each other for like 24 hours?” He looked me in the eyes waiting for my answer.
“No, not strange. I feel like I saw right into you really quickly you know? It's been no time at all but you have this big place in my heart already, D. To be honest I think you would even if you weren't gay or weren't interested in me that way. I don't know how to tell really, but I think when you meet someone who's going to be important to you, you have to take the chance, you know? I just hope my family understands that you're really important even if I haven't known you long”.
“I'm glad you are then J, taking a chance I mean. What would you like to do today other than our babysitting?” I pulled him in closer and whispered in his ear.
“I'd like to spend every minute wrapped up in your arms,” I said. We lay there quietly for another short while then David turned to me again.
“What do you think we should get these kids doing this afternoon J?” I thought about it for a second then said.
“Depends a little bit on the ages but we have to think about keeping the little ones away from the water no? So nothing where they're running about alone.”
“Glad you thought of that. We'll work something out. Come on let's get back and see what's happening.”
The rest of the day passed quietly. Martin was there with his Mum and Dad and his little sister so we talked to them a bit. We listened to a talk on the dhamma, Ajahn Ariyesako explaining how the Indian King Ashoka turned away from conquest by war to Dhamma Conquest – spreading peace and social justice instead of violence and oppression. It was, I was sure, his way of referring to the Peace Coalition event the following weekend. We took the kids outside for lunch and Martin helped us out looking after them. It was fun. Around three o'clock when the three of us were sitting outside talking about the day, Martin got a call on his cell phone.
“That was Joaquin he wanted to know if someone could pick him up and bring him over later for the evening puja,” he told us after a short conversation in Spanish.
“We could do that. You wanna drive into town J?” David asked.
“Sure, we could go now and come back for the service. Martin, you gonna come with?” I asked.
“Yeah. Let's go get my little brother and hang out for a bit.” With that decided I went inside to see if I could find a bhikku to let them know what we were doing. Arjun happened to be coming out of the shrine room as I passed by.
“Bhante,” I said. Arjun smiled at me.
“How's David, Jakob?” he asked me. I blushed immediately.
“He's fine thanks. Er, Arjun bhikku, we're going to drive into town for a bit. We'll be back for the evening service.” I managed without stuttering. How did he do this? It's not as if he'd even seen David and me together much.
“It's written all over your face Jakob,” he said having apparently read my mind. “Go and have some fun. I'll see you later.” I blushed again and hurried back to the guys.
The three of us climbed into the Volvo and we were off. I had my borrowed board in the back so I could skate with Joaquin if he wanted. We drove into the city listening to some dj spin rock and indie bands. We parked close to the park and I picked up my board and kit before we set off strolling through the Sunday afternoon bustle to the skate park. When we got there I sat on the grass to put my pads on while David and Martin took time saying Hi to people and looking out for Joaquin.
I rode around for a few minutes, said hi to a few people I recognized from the previous day and then saw David and Martin sitting on the low wall by the side of the ramps. I rolled over slowly, kicked my board into my hand and sat down next to them, taking my helmet off.
“Where's Joaquin?” I asked them.
“Dunno yet. Rory and the guys said he was here but he's gone now. We looked around but didn't see him. Guess he'll be back,” Martin replied. We sat down watching the action around us when I thought of something.
“Doesn't Joaquin have a cell phone like you?” I asked Martin.
“Yeah but it's either turned off or diverted to voice mail. No live answer.”
“Well he said he'd see us here right? And we've not been here long. He'll turn up,” David joined in. “He said he wanted to come back to the vihara with us when you spoke to him earlier?” He asked Martin.
“Yeah, he was keen to come to the service. Well, he's around somewhere if we hang round here he'll be back. Jakob, can I borrow the board for a bit if you're not skating?” Martin asked me.
“Be my guest bro,” I handed him the board and helmet and offered the pads but he took off without them. David climbed onto the wall behind me and we sat just like we had before: me leaning back against him and his arms around me. We watched Martin skate. He wasn't the elegant, spare skater that his brother was but he was bold and aggressive, in a way that seemed totally unlike his gentle personality. He threw himself up ramps and spun and twisted like he was fighting the air around him for domination. We sat and watched and David stroked my hair and I stroked his hands. The boys I'd been introduced to came over from time to time and sat with us making small talk and I basked in the unspoken acceptance they showed the two of us. No one commented and everyone spoke to us like there was nothing out of the ordinary. After a bit Rory came and sat down.
“Is Joaquin back yet?” he asked us.
“Not yet. We thought we'd wait here and he'll find us.” David said.
“Yeah, we'll I saw Mitchell leave a while back so I guess Darren and Joaquin must still be sorting things out,” Rory told us. The shock was palpable between the three of us for a moment and Rory sensing it said, “What did I say?”
“What the hell do Darren and Joaquin have to sort out?” Martin asked Rory urgently.
“Martin, bro, I don't know but Joaquin went off with Mitchell and Darren. I asked him at the time what it was about and he said not to stress he just needed to sort some stuff out with them.” Rory looked scared talking to Martin, defensive even. Martin's face softened in response.
“It's OK, Rory, I just can't see Joaquin having anything to do with those guys. Do you know where they went to?” Martin asked.
“I know they set off into the woods. Martin, I don't wanna bust anyone but, guy, I assumed it was a deal going down. I just thought that Joaquin was going to score,” Rory said sheepishly.
“No, no way. Joaquin wouldn't. There must have been some other reason. If Joaquin was even thinking of scoring blow he wouldn't be doing it with Mitchell and Darren.” Martin reached for his cell phone and dialed urgently.
“Who you calling, bro?” David asked him. All the while my spidey sense was telling me something was wrong.
“Seth,” Martin told David. “I want to know if he knows where his brother is.” Just then he spoke urgently into his phone and then after a short moment gave us back his attention.
“Seth said Mitchell came home a while ago without Darren and went straight to his room. So Joaquin goes off with the two of them and only one of them comes back. Guys, give me a reality check here. Am I paranoid? My little bro wouldn't have anything to do with those guys. He hates them. I really want to find Joaquin right now.” Martin looked panicked but I knew I didn't think he was paranoid and the tightening of David's arms around me told me he didn't either.
“We should go look for them. J, would you mind staying around here?” David asked me. “Martin and I know the town and one of us needs to stay here.”
“Sure, D, I'll hang here and maybe Rory and I can look round the park a bit. You and Martin both have phones, if you're going off together you want to leave one with us?”
“Brains, I love you,” David smiled at me. “Take my phone, Martin's number and all the others are programmed in. You'll find them if you need them. OK guys, Martin and I will go look around town. You check the park but don't go far from here. Soon as you find anything contact us, we'll do the same.”
I hugged my boy and watched as he and Martin jogged off. Rory looked at me sheepishly.
“I didn't want to interfere, you know?” he offered. “When I saw Joaquin go off with Mitchell and Darren, I thought it was weird but it wasn't my business.”
“It's probably nothing, Rory bro, but we should find Joaquin if we can. One of us should stay here and the other go walkabout, OK?” I suggested.
“Sure. I'll take a walk around and see what I can find. You hang here. Joaquin's gonna come back here if he knows you guys were gonna be waiting for him.” With that Rory set off and I settled down as best I could to wait. My anxiety distorted my time sense and it seemed to me that it was a very long time before Rory came back, running towards me, a look of urgency and fear on his face.
“Jakob, you need to get Martin and David now!” he shouted to me. “I've found Joaquin.” I stood up and pulled David's phone from my pocket. I found Martin's number and dialed it while I followed Rory back into the woods he'd come running out of. As I followed him I spoke to Martin.
“Martin! It's Jakob. Rory found Joaquin in the woods just the other side of the skate park. I'm following him back there now.” I paused while Martin questioned me. “He didn't say but for some reason he came back without him. Get back here.” I switched the phone off and slowed down following Rory through the dense woods. Two hundred meters in I saw Joaquin sitting propped against a tree, crouched, his head resting on his knees. I dashed over to him wondering why he was here. Rory stood nervously to one side saying nothing.
“Joaquin, what's going on guy?” I asked him as calmly as I could. The boy raised his head up to look at me. I winced as I saw a livid bruise on his cheek and a swollen blackened eye, his lips both split and his nose bleeding.
“Jakob,” Joaquin sobbed. “I fucked up. I'm defeated Jakob.” His head fell back onto his knees and he cried quietly. Rory was standing at the edge of the grove looking out for Martin and David. I sat down next to Joaquin and put my arm tentatively around his shoulders.
“What happened Joaquin? Who did this to you?” I asked the sobbing boy.
“I did it Jakob. I did it to my self,” he replied barely coherently.
“Come on Joaquin. You didn't do this to yourself. Tell me what happened,” I begged him. Just at that moment David and Martin came dashing towards us and I barely heard Joaquin whisper to me
“Darren. I fought Darren.” Before he had a chance to say any more Martin was kneeling beside his brother sobbing himself as he saw the boy's ruined face. David was talking into his phone. I wondered who to, and decided to leave the brothers for a second and ask him as soon as he dropped the call.
“I just talked to Edward. I think Joaquin's been hit in the head and I wanted to know what to do. Ed says we should take him to the hospital.” We turned back to the two brothers now sitting hugging each other. David knelt next to Martin and spoke to him gently. “Martin, Joaquin should go to the hospital to get his head checked bro. Let's see if he can walk and we'll take him in the car. Ed said if he's walking and talking he doesn't need an ambulance. OK?” Martin nodded and spoke to his brother in Spanish.
David and Martin stood up and helped Joaquin to his feet. We got him to the car and David drove us all to the ER. When we got there we had a sudden moment of panic when I wondered out loud if they would be able to examine Joaquin without his parents consent. We spoke to a nurse and she told us that they would agree to a non-invasive examination without needing the Loyolas' consent but that anything more and Joaquin's parents would have to agree. I asked Martin if I should call his parents and he nodded agreement.
I made the call, telling Joaquin's father only that he'd been hurt and needed to be examined just to make sure his head was OK. I didn't like it, but I didn't correct his assumption that the boy had been hurt skating. He'd find out. I walked back to my friends and sat down next to David.
“Joaquin, you going to tell us what happened?” Martin asked his brother quietly. Joaquin look at us and after a moment nodded. His face flashed crimson for a moment and then he started talking.
“Mitchell and Darren found me at the skate park. They were talking shit about you three. They were calling you names and making comments about how perverted you are. I ignored it at first, and I really tried to let it go but then they started on me.” The boy blushed again. “Darren started asking me if Martin and I were having sex. He said we were faggot brothers.” Joaquin started to cry again and I felt my chest tighten with anger and horror. “Then he started on about the bhikkus,” he continued and the shock of what he said made me gasp. “He said that they were probably all queer and that's how we got to be that way.” Martin looked at his brother and started to cry. David grabbed my hand and we sat waiting for the boy to finish his story. “After that I lost it. I started telling him to shut up and then I couldn't help it I started on him and Mitchell asking just how close they were. Mitchell was really angry but Darren was just cold. He said that if I was a man I'd go and settle it with him like a man. I don't know why but I agreed. We went into the woods and it just started. Darren started laying into me. Mitchell just kept watch but then when Darren had knocked me down he started kicking me on the ground. Mitchell told him to stop but he didn't so Mitchell said he was leaving. When he left Darren picked up my board and hit me in the face with the trucks.”
I listened to Joaquin's story in horror. The idea that Darren would hit the boy in the face with his board was just unbelievable but the evidence was there before us. David hugged me and Martin sat holding his brother's hand whispering comfort to him. A moment or two later, a young doctor appeared and took Joaquin off to be examined, his brother following. David and I sat quietly and didn't move until Martin came out alone.
“They've taken him to get X-rays and some kind of scan. He started to lose consciousness. What do I do?” Martin sobbed. We sat trying to comfort him until we were interrupted by Sr Loyola's arrival.
“¿Martin, donde esta tu hermano?” he asked his son.
“They took him to be X-rayed dad, I think they're really worried about him. I'm sorry dad, I'm so sorry.” Martin collapsed into his father's arms and the two comforted each other. They didn't let go until the nurse came over to speak to Sr Loyola. She took him to one side and spoke to him and then Martin and Jaoquin's father turned back to us.
“Martin, boys, Joaquin has to stay in hospital,” he told us in a faltering voice. “He has something called a cerebral edema – it's a swelling caused by fluid around his brain. I don't understand it all but it could be serious.” He looked at the three of us for a moment then continued. “If you know, you have to tell me how this happened. The doctors need as much information as possible. Martin, why wasn't he wearing a helmet?”
A look passed between the three of us as we realized that Sr Loyola and presumably the doctors believed that this was some skating accident. David was the one who spoke and I realized that he knew it would be easier for him than for Martin to tell Sr Loyola what had really happened.
“Sr Loyola, Joaquin didn't get hurt skating. He got beaten. He got into a fight and he was beaten with his board around the head.” Martin sobbed aloud as he heard again the horrific attack on his brother. David took a deep breath. “We know who did it Sr Loyola and we know why. I'm sorry but it's my fault. It's my fault Joaquin got beaten.” Sr Loyola's face has turned ashen. He looked at David bemused.
“Joaquin fought someone? Why? Why would he do that? Why did they beat him David?”
“They beat him because I'm gay and they were baiting Joaquin about being my friend,” David told Sr Loyola. “It's because of me. Joaquin is hurt because of me.” David sat down, head in hands and sobbed. Sr Loyola looked at the boy for a second before he responded.
“David, Joaquin is responsible for his own actions. I never wanted my boy to be a fighter but if he got hurt standing up to bigotry then I'm proud of him. You're not to blame here. Who did he fight, you have to tell me,” Martin and Joaquin's father asked. We told the story as best we could between the three of us and when we finished Sr Loyoa said, “We have to call the police and tell them. I know it's hard but you boys are going to have to tell them what you know about this. OK?”
The three of us nodded, agreeing that we would tell our story and once he had our agreement, Sr Loyola went to ask the receptionist to call the police. We sat quietly waiting for them to arrive, David and me on either side of Martin holding his hands trying to give him what little comfort we could.
Ten minutes later two police officers walked into the ER and went to the reception desk. The attendant spoke to them for a second then nodded and pointed in our direction. The two men came over and introduced themselves to Sr Loyola. When he had explained briefly what had happened the officers asked the receptionist if they could use a consulting room to hear the whole story.
The four of us followed the police officers into a small room fitted out for examinations. There weren't enough chairs, so David and I sat on the examination couch. The officers asked our names and then wanted to know who had first found Joaquin. I told them I'd been there first of the three of us but that Rory had found him. One of them made a note of Rory's name and they asked each of us questions until they were sure they had the story straight. I watched for their reactions to hearing that David and I were gay but there was nothing more than a quick glance at us from either of them. Finally the officer who seemed to be in charge put a question to me.
“Did you see this boy Darren when you found Joaquin?” I shook my head.
“No, sir. Joaquin was alone when we found him. I asked him straight away who did it and he told me about the argument with Mitchell and Darren and then about getting beaten by Darren.”
“Do you know where these boys live?” He asked the four of us. David replied.
“I do. I know where both of them live. I know that Mitchell went home earlier because I called his brother to ask about him.”
“OK, can you write down the addresses for me? We're going to have to go and get these two boys and hear their story and we'll probably need to speak to you three again” he told us. David wrote down the addresses and passed the notepad he'd been given back to the officer. They led us back to the waiting room and after speaking briefly to the doctor they left. The doctor came over and spoke to us for a moment.
“Joaquin is upstairs on the wards now. He's had some pretty powerful pain killers and we expect him to sleep for a while. For now we don't want him to have more than two visitors at a time when he wakes up. We're giving him drugs to try to reduce the pressure on his brain. We'll know more about how he's progressing when the drugs begin to have an effect.” David turned to Sr Loyola.
“Sr Loyola, I'm going to drive back to the vihara now. Maybe I should bring Sra Loyola back with me?” he asked.
“If you would David that would help a lot. I'm going to phone her now and tell her what's happened.” Martin and Joaquin's father took out a cell phone and began to dial. David put an arm round my shoulder and we walked out to the car park. We got into the Volvo and drove in painful silence back to the vihara. A day that had started so beautifully and peacefully had shattered around us in violence and ugliness. I tried not to think of Joaquin's broken face and to concentrate on loving kindness. It wasn't easy – I was blinded by anger at the creeps who done this but I remembered that I'd told Joaquin that anger and violence didn't make things better. I owed it to him to try to live up to my own advice.