...no matter how much he wanted to have Joey's physical touch, he couldn't dismiss his love for Jim. He wanted his first sexual experience to be something special, with someone he felt he truly loved. As much as he was attracted to Joey, it was Jim that he truly loved.
"Joey, I want to, but I can't."
As Little Joey stared at Randy, his eyes began to fill with tears. He felt rejected, he slumped back into his wheel chair and covered his face in his hands. The fear of death filled him, he was so afraid to die. The doctors had told him that morning that his cell counts were good and it looked like the cancer was in remission, but he'd been so used to the idea his death was imminent he couldn't let it go. All he wanted to do was love someone and be loved in return before he died. `Is it too much to ask, God?' he thought to himself as the tears fell from his eyes into his hands.
"Joey, there you are," Nurse Holmsley's voice rang out as she barged into the room.
The middle-aged woman quickly walked over to Joey and tussled his hair. She was a little concerned when he didn't look up at her. She looked quizzically at Randy, wondering why Joey's face was buried in his hands as he was obviously crying. Randy offered no explanation; he stared blankly at the wall, almost as if no one else was in the room.
"I have good news, Doctor Anderson says you can go home Friday, Joey. The treatments seem to have worked," the nurse announced excitedly.
"Randy?" came another familiar voice. It was his mother.
Randy was brought back to reality as his mother neared his bed, her arms filled with an assortment of clothing. He looked into his mother's eyes and began to cry. He didn't know what to do or what to say. He wanted so much to scream out; he wanted so much to make it all go away. Anguish seemed to wash over his body as his mother set the clothes down on the table next to his hospital bed.
"Randy, are you OK? What's the matter?" his mom's sweet voice asked.
"I have no idea what's going on with these two. You'd think they'd be happy they're both going home in a couple of days," Nurse Holmsley told Randy's mom.
"Joey's coming home too? Does that mean...?" Mary's voice trailed off.
"Yes, his cancer is in remission. It's a miracle."
"Oh yeah, a big fucking miracle. Well, I'll just miraculously disappear. I'll see you around, Randy." Joey seemed to spit the words out as he jerked his wheel chair around and sped out of the room.
Nurse Holmsley had a feeling about what had just happened. She followed Joey out of the room. Randy's mother looked totally confused and hoped that the nurse or Randy would offer some explanation. None came.
"Randy, what's wrong with Joey?" his mother asked, her voice filled with concern.
"It's nothing, Mom. I'll work it out."
"Well, if it's nothing, how come he's crying and so angry?"
"IT'S NOTHING, MOTHER!!!"
Somewhat shocked at her son's outburst, she decided it was best not to push the subject. It upset her to see her son so angry, but she knew he'd been through a lot and needed his space. As much as she wanted to comfort her son, she knew he was growing into a man and that men needed independence. Mary decided to keep her visit short.
"Well, I just wanted to bring you some clothes to wear home. I brought a couple pairs of slacks and a few shirts. You can pick out which ones you want to wear home Friday."
"OK. Well, I'll leave. I see you need to have some time to think. I love you, Randy."
"I love you too, Mom."
With that, Mary bent over, kissed him on the forehead and then left.
In the meantime, Steve and Jim were headed back to the farm in Jim's Charger. Jim clung to the steering wheel as he drove deep in thought. He was thinking about Randy's reaction when he had told him about Steve and himself. Or was it the lack of reaction that caused him to think? His mind played tapes of the three years of their friendship. In every one of his visions, he saw Randy's bright capturing smile. He pictured those deep dark brown eyes sparkling. He saw the cute face of his best friend looking so trustingly at him. He began to realize that maybe it was Randy he really loved, but dismissed the thought quickly, knowing that was impossible.
"Hey, Jimbo," Steve said, bringing him out of his daze.
"We gonna plan a party for Randy, Friday, or what?"
"I guess," Jim said noncommittally.
"Well, I can get some killer weed, but we got to take a trip to Canada. Bernie has this guy he knows up there. We could drive up in your car and pick it up plus make some money," Steve started to explain.
Jim had heard stories about this guy, Bernie, and knew he was trouble. He didn't think he wanted to get involved, but Steve had a way of wrapping Jim around his fingers. He listened as Steve laid out the plan.
"Yeah, we drive up there tonight. Bernie will give me the money. I'll go into the house; you just wait in your car. As soon as I come out, we take off. You don't even get out of the car, just keep it running."
"I don't know. It sounds scary."
"I'll be there to protect you. Don't you trust me?"
Jim thought about it for a few moments. He wondered when his life had become so complicated. He thought back to the times he and Randy went swimming in the Grasse River, the simpler times. The young teen thought about how much fun he'd had with Randy all those years, innocent fun. Now he was in love with someone he felt needed him, yet he felt as if he didn't really know him. He wanted to trust Steve, but had this nagging feeling he shouldn't. Jim was so afraid of losing him, he'd decided he'd go along with it. As much as he didn't want to, he'd do it. He'd prove his love to Steve and himself.
"Of course I trust you. I love you."
"I love you too, Jim."
The rest of the ride to the farm was quiet. Both boys were deep in thought.
Nurse Holmsley followed Joey to his room. She was worried about him and knew he was upset. She had a feeling she knew why, but wanted to confirm her suspicions. He was already in his room and climbing into his bed by the time she hit the door.
"Hey, Slugger, what's wrong?"
"Nothing. I'm OK," Joey's voice quavered.
"You should be happy, you're getting out of here in two days with a clean bill of health."
"Oh yeah, I'm just bubbling over. God has really dealt me a shitty hand of cards. Do you know why they call it remission? Because that's what it is. I'm not better and I'll never know what it is to love someone..." Joey broke down completely as he pulled the sheets over his body in the bed.
"Sure you will, Joey. I'm positive you're going to be all right."
"Please, Nurse Holmsley, just leave me alone. I just want to be left alone," Joey cried out.
Nurse Holmsley worried about her two star patients. She decided to take action into her own hands. Randy had told her how he felt about Jim and now she suspected Joey was the same way. She knew that Judy McLean's son was gay. She and Judy had been good friends ever since Judy started at the hospital. Nurse Holmsley also knew that Scotty was going through a rough time with his sexuality. She caught up with Judy at the time clock, just as Judy was punching out.
"Judy, could you have Scotty come in here after school tomorrow?"
"I suppose. Why?"
"Well, you know that little boy, Joey? I think he had his heart broken today and I think he really needs a friend, if you catch my drift."
"Scotty has been so depressed lately, I don't know if he'd be good company."
"Trust me, Judy, I think I have the answer," Nurse Holmsley said, smiling at her friend.
Judy had been concerned about her son, Scotty, since he'd told her he was gay. She'd worked closely with Randy in his physical therapy hoping to get closer to him so she could learn more about how boys like him felt. Nurse Holmsley had told Judy about Randy's feelings, but Randy had never said anything to her. All she wanted to do was love and understand her son. As much as she hated to meddle in her son's life, she knew he needed someone to talk to about his feelings.
"What do I tell him?" Judy asked.
"Tell him there's a boy you'd like him to meet. Tell him there's a boy who has a broken heart and you think he can fix it."
Nurse Holmsley watched as Judy walked down the tiled hallway. Feeling quite content, she decided it was time to visit Randy a little. She just had to confirm what she thought. He had been honest with her; it was her turn to be honest with him. She moved her hands down towards her skirt as if to smooth wrinkles from it and headed to Randy's room. Not quite sure what she'd say, but definitely on a mission. It was her calling, the calling of a nurse, to make things right and make the patients comfortable. It was what she had trained all those years to do. This was just one more of those times she convinced herself as she made her way towards Randy's room.
Jim slowly drove the black '69 Charger up the three hundred-foot gravel drive towards the farmhouse. `Stairway to Heaven,' played softly from the four speakers strategically placed around the inside of the car.
Carol stood in the kitchen preparing dinner, worrying about Jim's sudden friendship with Steve. She'd been down to Jenny's that morning and heard more stories about `that boy,' more stories that upset her. She had tried to talk to Matty about it, but Matty just shrugged it off.
"Carol, the boy has to find his own way. It's time he grew up and made mistakes on his own. We'll be here to catch him if he falls," Matty had told her as he rushed out of the house to the barn.
She knew her husband was right, but it didn't make her worry less. Carol stood silently in the kitchen as Jim and Steve bounded through the door. She pretended to be caught up in cooking and tried to pay little attention to the two boys.
"Hey, Aunt Carol," Jim said as he kissed her on the cheek.
"How are you? You gonna be ready to go back to work next week? Matty's brothers are giving him a hard time. He needs you back in the barn, Jim."
Jim felt a sting of guilt. He knew he'd been given a reprieve from working since Randy's accident. He also knew how selfish Matty's brothers and family could be. Jim knew he owed everything he had now to Matty and Carol since his parents had died. Matty and Carol took care of his every need. It wasn't as if Jim didn't earn his keep; he certainly worked hard for his uncle and the farm, rising early every morning to bring the cows in and coming home every afternoon from school to milk them again. He didn't necessarily feel as if he owed them, but Jim did feel like he was part of the family and that meant he owed his contribution.
"Yeah, Randy's coming home the day after tomorrow. I don't know when he'll be able to come back to work, but I'll be ready Monday. What's for dinner?" Jim chirped.
"I'm making fried chicken. Will you be joining us, Steve?" Carol asked, hoping the answer would be no, but knowing differently.
"Yes, ma'am, thanks. Jim and I are heading to Canada tonight." Steve explained.
"Really, what's in Canada?"
"My mom's friend has some furniture she needs carted over," Steve lied.
"You taking the van?" Carol asked.
"No, it's small stuff, we'll take my car," Jim offered.
A few hours after dinner, Jim watched as the twinkling lights of Montreal approached. He and Steve were bound for some friend of Bernie's with a small suitcase filled with cash. Jim felt uncomfortable, but kept thinking he had to prove his love to Steve. As much as he hated what he was doing, he acted like a sheep being driven to slaughter.
"Take this left...OK, this right. Here, here, this one. Fuck, man, back up, you missed it," Steve shouted out.
Jim threw the car into reverse, punched down harder on the accelerator than was necessary, and backed up with the tires screeching. Suddenly he slammed on the brakes as he approached the dirt road he had passed. He seemed to be taking his anger out on the vehicle. He jerked the stick shift into drive and floored the gas as he yanked the steering wheel to the right and slid the car around the turn.
"Slow the fuck down!" Steve screamed.
The Dodge Charger bounced up and down over the ruts of the dirt road as Jim sped along. His anger became more of a rage at Steve and the way he had talked to him. His knuckles turned white as he gripped the wheel of the car. He took his foot off the gas pedal and eased out a breath. Out of the corner of his eye he caught the glimpse of a house just up ahead in a clearing.
"Douse your headlights, numb nuts," Steve yelled out.
Jim's hand reached for the headlight dial to his left and turned off the lights, wondering why.
"OK, turn the car around, keep it running and wait here for me," Steve told Jim. When the car was positioned, Steve got out, taking the case of money with him.
As he sat there, Jim began to feel used. Not only used, but abused by Steve and the way he had treated him. He longed for the days when he and Randy played around the farm, the days that seemed to last forever. He ached to feel the tender touch of his mother's hand on his face and to see his father's smile. It was only a few minutes, perhaps ten, but it seemed like an eternity.
"Go, go, go, mother fucker!" Jim screamed as he jumped into the car.
Bang, bang, the sounds of gunfire rang out. The sounds of shattering glass filled the car as Jim stomped down on the gas pedal and sped into the darkness. A bullet ricocheted through the car and a dead thud was heard as it landed.
"Owww," Steve yelled out in pain.
To be continued:
Thanks, Ron, for a splendid job editing this chapter.
If you'd like to read more of this story, drop me an e-mail, Justin69SK@aol.com