The following contains scenes of sexual activity between males. If it is illegal for you to read this in your area or if you feel you may be offended by doing so, please do not continue. This story is complete fiction and any similarities between the story and reality are purely coincidental. There is no Madison, Oklahoma. Some of the characters in this story may engage in behavior which could be construed as illegal or unsafe. This is not an endorsement of such behavior. The author does not condone the violation of any law, not does he encourage unsafe behavior. Please do not copy or post this story without the knowledge or consent of the author.
Please send any comments to my new address, chriswriter @ operamail.com. Thank you for reading my story. If you like it, please let others know about it.
If you would be interested in reading other stories I have written, you may find them under the Prolific Writers link on the Nifty home page. They include A Canterbury Tale, The Moon in Your Eyes, Odyssey, Centennial Park, and The Secrets of Waldo. I hope to resume The Secrets of Waldo when I have completed A Curious Set of Misfits, and I invite you to check it out. If you would like me to resume it, please let me know by writing to my current address: chriswriter @ operamail.com. Thank you very, very much!
Note: use of the words “Negro” and “colored” is a reflection of the place and time the story occurs, (rural Oklahoma in the sixties), and is in no way intended disrespectfully toward African-Americans and African-American readers.
PLEASE READ: Suicide is the number one cause of death among young people and one third of all suicides among young people are by GLBT youth. If this may be an issue in your life: please click on one of the following links!
I thank Quack for sending these links and for his very important suggestion that I post these!
A Curious Set of Misfits
“Sitting on the side. Waiting for a sign. Hoping that my luck will change.
Reaching for a hand that can understand someone who feels the same.
When you live in a cookie cutter world being different is a sin.
So you don't stand out and you don't fit in. Weird.”
Hanson. Copyright 1997, Jam 'N Bread Music
David Griffin crossed himself as he ran across the front yard of his house. Where will it end, Father? he asked. Where will it end?
As he ran up the street, he could see people peeking out the doors of their houses to see what was happening at the Llewellyns’. Several people had gathered in the yard as he approached. A couple were looking inside the ambulance, a red Cadillac station-wagon, and then looking back at the house in apprehension. A second police car pulled up, adding its revolving red beacon to the confusion of light already flashing about the neighborhood. As the police officer climbed out of the car, Dave recognized him as the one who had earlier taken Daniel from the Griffin house and returned the boy to his parents. Dave angrily marched up to him.
“Are you happy now?” he demanded furiously. “Are you? I warned you. I warned you, but you wouldn’t listen.”
The policeman gave Dave a withering look as he casually walked through the yard toward the open front door. Dave looked on helplessly, ashamed of his outburst, but still contemptuous of the man’s attitude.
Suddenly, the other policeman burst from the front door, leading the two ambulance attendants as they carried a gurney out the door.
“Get out of the way!” he barked as the spectators jumped back, yet stared ghoulishly at the prone figure being borne to the ambulance. Dave saw the ashen face of the young boy fall to the side. The boy’s eyes were open.
“Daniel!” he called.
The boy’s eyes blinked and then the attendants shoved him into the back of the ambulance. A commotion at the front door diverted his attention and he saw Daniel’s parents being restrained by the other policeman. The boy’s mother was hysterical as his father struggled to guide her past the officer and toward the car parked in the driveway. Dave marched across the yard.
“What did you do to him?” he demanded. “You bastard! What did you do to him?!”
Both policeman grabbed Dave’s shoulders and held him as Daniel’s father looked at him with a stricken face.
“I’ve killed my son,” he cried as he looked Dave in the face.
Dave ceased his struggle, his eyes on Llewellyn’s. One of the policemen, looked carefully at him and then left his side to escort Daniel’s parents to his squad car.
“He’s still alive,” the remaining policeman said comfortingly to Dave. “I’m going to need a statement from you.”
The police man sighed and looked around at the growing crowd. Softly, he replied, “He cut his wrist. I don’t know if they found him in time.”
Dave closed him eyes and groaned.
“He left a note at our house. He must have come over just a few minutes ago.”
“There’s one here, too. We’re going to need that note.”
“I’m going to the hospital.”
The officer let go of Dave’s arm and nodded.
“Bring the note.”
Dave nodded as the ambulance sounded its siren and pulled away from the curb. He ran back toward his home, finding Bill Patterson and his wife at the front door. Michael was peeking around the corner, his face full of trepidation.
“He’s alive. They’re taking him to the hospital right now.”
Ricky’s mother clasped her hands together and closed her eyes. Bill sighed with relief. They moved aside to allow Dave to pass. When he entered the living room, Eric stood.
Eric swayed as he closed his eyes and exhaled.
“Oh, God,” he whispered.
“He… cut his wrist. They’re taking him to the hospital. I think because of the short time from when he left the note and when they found him, we can be encouraged. But, I’m going to the hospital now.”
“I’m coming with you,” Eric said, his voice quivering as he grabbed his shirt. He had already put his pants and shoes on.
“No, you can’t go, Eric. You have to understand. You can’t go.”
“I have to,” Eric cried.
“Son, you… can’t… go.”
Dave looked the boy in the eyes and Eric surrendered. He sat back down on the couch as Betsy joined him.
“Mikey, I need the note for the police. Only yours. I don’t want to take Eric’s.”
He looked at Bill, who nodded knowingly. Michael picked up the note from the coffee table and handed it to his father.
“You want to come?” he asked Bill, who nodded.
John Tracy sat behind the front desk of the Madison Hotel reading a paperback thriller by Arthur Hailey. His mind was only half on the book as he occasionally glanced around the faded luxury of the hotel’s lobby. In the twenties, this had been a favorite stop for oil men and ranchers and the dusty chandelier with its dank crystal and tarnished brass seemed symbolic of the better times the hotel had seen. Few people stayed in the Madison anymore. Most were elderly people who received special rates to live there. They enjoyed the services offered and the company of the other guests. Several would sit of an evening in the lobby, drinking coffee and chatting. They kept John company. They all knew of his history; but John Tracy was a nice boy, (thirty-six, but they still considered him a boy). He was quiet and polite and he didn’t flaunt anything. Of course, John would have commented ruefully, there wasn’t much to flaunt.
There were three elderly ladies seated in the lobby on old overstuffed chairs, drinking coffee, thumbing through tattered copies of Life, Look, and Post. Peggy Lee was asking if that was all there was from within a transistor radio on a side table. An elderly negro lady sat on a stool in the elevator, reading her Bible and waiting for a passenger.
John looked up from his book and cocked his head. He heard something, but he was not sure what. It disappeared, though, so he went back to his book. A second later, one of the ladies turned her head and looked out one of the picture windows between the closed newsstand and the gift shop. John looked up again. Yes, this time he definitely heard it. As it grew louder, everyone in the lobby turned to look. Red lights seemed to flash from down the street and within seconds all knew that an ambulance was approaching.
One of the ladies shook her head with disgust.
“Probably another one of those drunks from the Rebel Inn. I swear, if the sheriff doesn’t close that place down, we need to vote him out of office!”
All three ladies nodded and the first continued.
“Every weekend, it’s something out there. That place is just no good. No good.”
“I know, I know.”
John watched the reflection of the flashing red light growing in the windows of the Madison County Bank across the street. He said nothing, but he agreed with the ladies. Indeed, if he had a spine, he ruminated, he’d torch the damn place himself with all its patrons inside!
John frowned. He didn’t like it when he allowed himself to feel such emotions. His parents had taught him better. He thought of his poor, departed mother and he felt shame for his sentiments. However, the image of another could be seen in his mind’s eye behind her and he knew he would never be able to completely banish the anger over what had been taken from him.
Everyone jumped when the bell in the elevator rang. The operator closed her Bible and the door; John watched as it rose out of sight past the ceiling. A moment later, it returned and the door opened to reveal the operator and another elderly lady in her house coat. With a flushed face, she rushed from the elevator and approached the other ladies seated in the center of the lobby just as the ambulance rushed past, its siren causing all to cover their ears until it had passed.
“It’s the Llewellyn boy!” she declared with a delicious excitement. “Grace Howard just called me. She saw the whole thing from her living room window. There were people all around the house and they wheeled him out on a stretcher!”
John’s paperback fell silently to the floor. His stricken face gazed in horror at the ladies who were unaware of his shock.
“What happened?” one of the ladies asked, eager concern in her voice.
“She didn’t say, but the police were there! Both cars!”
One of the ladies tutted under her breath and shook her head.
“I knew that Stan Llewellyn was no good under that goody-two shoes exterior! Did he try to kill the boy?”
“I wouldn’t be surprised. He rode that poor child…”
John could take the ghoulish conversation no more. With tears in his eyes he turned away and faced the wall behind him, hiding the pain in his face. John knew what had happened. He knew the truth about Daniel. Such a sweet, intelligent, sensitive boy. He knew. He knew the friendship with Eric. Eric. Another sweet boy, so good, so dedicated.
Oh, God, he thought. Don’t let it be that. Oh, please not that.
And, as he prayed he saw an image from twenty years before, a cloudy day at the Spring Hollow Cemetery, the Methodist preacher standing over Sterling Jordan’s coffin and only he and Sterling’s mother present for the funeral. Stan Llewellyn’s weekend job in high school was as a caretaker at the cemetery. As he and Sterling’s mother slowly walked away from the newly dug grave, he had turned and seen Stan leaning against an old hackberry tree, watching with amused contempt on his face. How could such a vile and vicious man create such a kind and good-hearted lad as Daniel. And, if it was true, as he had no doubt it was, that Stan was responsible for whatever was sending the child to the hospital, John was not certain he could stay in this town any longer, the town that had trapped him, the town that had taken his respect and killed his dreams, the town that had destroyed the only love he had known beyond his parents, and which, in the end, had left his parents heartbroken.
“Please, Father. Protect the boy and spare him from the pain I knew. Please.”
Dave and Bill sat alone in a corner of the emergency room at the Madison Community Hospital. Neither could speak. They looked at the floor, only occasionally glancing up at the parents of the boy the doctors were struggling to save. Stan avoided his eyes. His wife was oblivious of their presence. The minutes dragged like hours. The wait was interminable.
“Our children are so vulnerable,” Dave whispered. “They feel things so much more intensely than do we, yet they don’t have the tools they need to withstand and to understand.”
Bill nodded sadly.
“Rick acts so strong and tough, but inside he’s a boy and he was so hurt over the last few weeks. If we lose Daniel, I’m afraid for how that’s going to scar him.”
“All the boys. Michael and Trevor and especially Tad. They’re too young to face these things.”
Bill nodded again. Dave continued.
“But, it’s Eric I’m most concerned for. He’s so good, he’ll take the responsibility for what happened. It’ll kill him, if someone else doesn’t first.”
Dave looked up at Stan Llewellyn and whispered, “If that poor child dies…”
“Dave,” Bill said, placing a hand on his friend’s arm.
At that moment, a doctor appeared, a small bit of blood on his gown, and approached the Llewellyns. He smiled. Daniel’s mother clasped her hands and began to cry. Stan closed his eyes in thanksgiving. When the doctor had given them all the information he could, he turned and started back toward the door from which he had just emerged. However, when he saw Dave and Bill standing and looking concerned, he approached.
“He’ll be OK. We stitched him up. He didn’t loose too much.”
As the Llewellyns followed the doctor, Stan looked at Dave. The anguish on the man’s face spoke far more than mere words in expressing his sorrow. Dave nodded to him.
As Bill followed him out to the car, Dave was silent. As they reached the LTD, Dave stood at the driver’s door and stared off at the stars in the cloudless sky, so typical of Oklahoma after a storm. Bill waited a moment before saying softly, “Dave?”
He looked at this friend, frowned in embarrassment, and opened the door. When they were seated and the engine was running, Dave said quietly, “So much has happened in the last few days. Eric, Daniel, Michael and Trevor and Ricky. I… I just…”
He shook his head and pulled out of the parking lot.
Main Street was deserted. They stopped at the unnecessary light at Fourth Street and Dave looked along the dark storefronts, at the Otasco, the Braum’s Ice Cream, the First National Bank, the Madison Hotel.
The Madison Hotel.
“Dave, the light’s green.”
He looked at Bill and smiled sheepishly.
He pulled up to the front of the hotel and stopped. He opened the door and got out. Leaning down, he looked at his perplexed friend and said, “Take the car home. I’ll call Betsy from inside and tell her. But, I have something I need to do. I’ll walk home afterward.”
Bill smiled and slid over to the driver’s side.
As the car pulled away, Dave stood in the deserted street and looked at the plate glass windows and the ornate, bronze doors of the Madison Hotel. He could see several elderly women sitting in the lobby as he approached, and, behind the desk, the huddled form of one who had once been a lively and energetic boy. As Dave opened the door and saw all eyes turn to him, except those of he whom he had come to see, he saw the aging face of his fellow altar boy. The guilt and shame of twenty years made him dizzy as he stepped down into the lobby.
John was seated on the stool behind the front desk, his eyes gazing downward, obviously not focused on anything in particular. It was only when Dave had passed the ladies with their coffee pot and radio that John looked up. The shock on his face made Dave smile sadly.
John mouth opened as if to speak, yet he said nothing. Dave rested his hands on the counter.
“I suppose from the conversation behind me that you’ve all heard about Daniel Llewellyn.”
John nodded, still silent.
“He’ll be OK. They got him in time.”
John’s eyes closed and he exhaled a prayer of thanksgiving. Dave noticed the moist eyes and smiled.
“I wanted to apologize for not coming to see you until now. We’ve been here four months and it really was inconsiderate. You should have come on over on the Fourth.”
“I… don’t socialize much since Mother died. But, thank you.”
Dave swallowed and looked around the lobby.
“It’s not the same as it was in our day, is it?”
John looked down at the marble top of the counter. Softly, he replied, “Thank God.”
The words were like a knife in his heart. Dave closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
“Johnny, I owe you an explanation and an apology.”
John looked away.
“I have to, Johnny. I have to. You see, today, Stan Llewellyn found Daniel and Eric Robbins together in their living room. Eric wasn’t doing anything to Daniel and apparently their friendship has been just that. Probably a lot closer than normal, but Stan jumped to conclusions. He called the police and a warrant was issued for Eric’s arrest.”
He sighed. John simply looked at the floor.
“To make a long story short, the police asked a number of people to help them search for Eric, apparently, and among them were Hank Tharp and some of his friends.”
He paused and waited for some sign of a reaction. John’s face stiffened slightly, but there was no other indication he had heard.
“Bill Patterson and I went out to find him before Tharp did. And, we found him. At the park.”
John’s jaw tightened.
Eric is safe and the police and Stan know that Eric is innocent. But, everything that has happened, and a few other things I won’t go into, have made me realize that… I owe you an apology. I did something unforgivable twenty years ago and tomorrow I am going to put it right.”
Slowly, trembling, John raised his face. Dave looked him in the eye.
“Johnny, I saw who killed Sterling.”
John didn’t move. His eyes remained locked on Dave’s.
“I was delivering papers that morning. I saw Tharp and his gang running back to his truck. I lied to the police because my Dad told me to. I told them I didn’t see anything before I found him, but it wasn’t true. I saw them. It was Tharp.”
Dave’s eyes were moist as he spoke. John seemed to be struggling to contain an inner turmoil, and, then, suddenly, his face relaxed and took on a look of peace and serenity. He smiled.
“You don’t need to apologize, Davey,” he said, realizing as he said so that both had reverted back to the nicknames of their youth. “I knew it was Tharp, even if the police didn’t believe me.”
“Johnny, I’m telling the police tomorrow.”
John looked down at the marble again.
“They need to be brought to justice.”
“Your family,” John said softly. “The town.”
“It’s not 1948 anymore. At least, I don’t think so. I know you… you loved him. I know you were devastated by his death. I know you’ve really had no life since then. They not only took Sterling’s life, they took yours. It’s time they paid the price.”
John suddenly found himself trembling.
“I’m sorry it has taken me so long,” Dave said. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
John simply looked in Dave’s eyes. With tears, he smiled.
David Griffin stood at the kitchen window and watched the neighborhood kids frolicking in the cool, early November air. The afternoon sun cast a golden glow over the backyard that highlighted the brilliant orange and red of the fallen maple leaves. He stared for a moment at Trevor, sitting alone in the doorway to the clubhouse, cross-legged and holding his guitar. The wind tossed the boy’s hair across his face. He tried to understand why his son loved this boy. He knew he did and he knew that he could do nothing to change it. He thought of the grandchildren who would never be born and he felt an ache. But, then, he saw Tad and Michael pick-up a struggling Daniel from the ground in front of Trevor and carry him to a huge pile of leaves in the corner of the yard. They tossed the frail boy into the pile. Daniel squealed in delighted anguish and Dave smiled. The boy sat half submerged in leaves, grinning up at Michael, who giggled and glanced at Trevor. When Dave saw the smile on Michael’s face, the look of love and happiness directed at the strange and, yes, beautiful boy with the guitar, the ache of a moment before disappeared. Michael had found love and he, David Griffin, would not take that from him.
Movement to the side caught his attention and he saw Eric Robbins appear from around the corner with Ricky Patterson and BJ Tharp. Eric had a hand on BJ’s shoulder. The younger boy had lost much of his one-time bluster. He stood passively by the fence as Daniel struggled up from the leaves and ran to hug his mentor. Ricky smiled and tossed a football toward Michael as Trevor began to sing.
The smell of Betsy’s pot roast permeated the kitchen and as his wife came up beside him, he put his arm around her.
“Do you still regret moving back?” she asked, her eyes searching her husband’s face. He looked down and smiled, kissing her on the forehead.
The door bell rang and Dave turned to walk to the living room. He found Bill and Nancy Patterson, with John Tracy behind them, standing on the porch.
“Come in! Come in! We’re just about to corral the honyocks! Take a seat. Can I get anyone anything? Nancy? John? Sherry? I know Bill wants a Coors!”
Instead of sitting in the living room, the group gathered in the kitchen, the traditional meeting place as refreshments were distributed.
“Well, the Welfare people called today and we’ve been approved as foster parents for BJ and his brother,” Bill announced. Dave and Betsy smiled.
“That’s wonderful,” Dave said as he handed John a sherry. “It took them long enough.”
“Well, part of the problem is BJ. He’s mistrustful. Very mistrustful. Who wouldn’t be with all the abuse in that family. It’ll take time, but I believe we can make headway with the boys.”
Betsy shook her head.
“Who would have thought that man was beating and raping his own kids.”
Everyone turned a face to John, who blushed and looked down. Bill gave him a sympathetic pat on the shoulder.
“With all the witnesses who’ve come forward now to corroborate Dave’s evidence and with these new charges, they’ve got him. If they don’t fry him, he’ll at least never get out of McAllister. If someone doesn’t kill him on the inside!”
Later, with leaves brushed from clothes and hands cleansed of grime, the children were seated for their dinner around card tables in the living room as the adults sat down to their dinner in the dining room. However, as Dave prepared to say Grace, John interrupted and asked, “Dave, may I?”
Dave smiled and nodded.
“Heavenly Father, we thank you for the blessings you have bestowed upon us, for the food we are about to enjoy, for the love of family and friends, for your gift of justice, and for the children who grace our lives. And, may we always remember those who are less fortunate and who cannot enjoy the gifts we share tonight. May we always be grateful, may we always strive to be worthy of your gifts. And, may I personally thank you for the gift of friendship you have granted me. May I always be worthy of the friends with whom you have blessed me. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Amen.”
David Griffin looked across at his son and as their eyes met, he, too, said, “Amen.”
And, so ends A Curious Set of Misfits. I hope you have enjoyed the story and I thank you sincerely for your compliments and support. Your emails have meant so much to me and I am very grateful. I will begin posting a new story soon. I had intended to resume The Secrets of Waldo, but have chosen, instead, to begin a new story which will, however, incorporate many elements of Waldo including the main characters, Adam and Sean. It is , as yet, untitled, so I cannot tell you to look for it or when, but I have saved most of the addresses of those of you who have written to me about Misfits, so I will try to notify you when the new story is up. If you haven’t written before and would like to be notified when the new story is up, write to chriswriter @ operamail.com and I will add you to my list!