W.A.R. Part Six - Commencement
Chapter Seven - On the Chopping Block
by Jeff Wilson
"Where in the hell have you been?" mom asked as I came in through the back door of the house long after the sun had gone down. I could still feel the results of Brett's love inside me as I walked through the woods. We had taken turns that afternoon, giving each other as much pleasure as two boys could want. But now, in the kitchen, I knew I was going to have to pay for my pleasure.
"I was with Brett," I answered honestly. "Would you like to know what we were doing?"
Mom recoiled with disgust. "Oh! God no! That's disgusting! Billy, I asked you to end things with him, not go have sex with him! You deliberately disobeyed me!"
"Yes I did," I replied. "It's funny how having your secrets exposed frees you and helps you to understand what's important. Brett is my boyfriend, mom. Whether you like it or not, that's not going to change. We belong together, and the more you try to push us apart the stronger our love will become."
"You can't love a boy the way you love a girl!" mom insisted. "It's just not possible! Billy, what you are doing..."
"'What you are doing is sinful and wrong,'" I finished what she was going to say. "I know. And I don't care! Kick me out if you want to. I'll find a place. I'll drop out of school and get a job and pay for my insulin. I'd rather die than stay away from Brett. In fact, I will die if I can't be with him. You're just going to have to throw me out like your hero did to his son."
Mom gave me such a glare, I thought for a second she might seriously do what I'd dared her to do. It was a gamble, but I was willing to sacrifice everything to be with Brett. Mom turned away, unable to look at the disgrace she'd given birth to.
"Man shall not lie with man as he lies with woman," mom said, as if convincing herself of the scripture's truth.
"Scripture also says to not frustrate your children," I replied.
"Where does it say that?" mom asked incredulously.
"How do you even know that?"
"I googled it."
"I don't even want to know what that means!" mom gagged.
"The point is scripture says a lot of things. Isn't it the love that we have for each other that's important? If I had murdered Brett instead of slept with him, I'd be more welcome in your church than I am now. That's insane. You can either be a Pharisee and try to squeeze out every last law you can find to punish me for loving who I love, or you can be like Jesus and understand that love is love no matter who it's for."
Mom paused. "That is... the... stupidest theology I've ever heard!" And then she started to laugh. I couldn't believe it. I certainly never expected it. I hadn't heard her laugh in so long that I'd forgotten what it sounded like. The situation was so absurd that I started to laugh too. It took us a good minute to finally get ourselves under control, and even then a snicker from one of us would get the other one started again.
Finally, mom gathered her senses enough to speak again. "Oh mercy! It feels good to laugh with you again!"
"Yeah, this is what you'll miss when you kick me out," I replied.
"Oh, no one's going to kick you out! Come on, what kind of mother do you take me for?"
"I don't know, you sounded pretty serious about it."
"Billy, you know my opinion. I think what you're doing with that boy is wrong. Nothing you say will convince me otherwise. If you have sex with another boy it's sin. Period. That's God's law. There's nothing you or I can do to change it. But there's also nothing that you could do that will ever make me stop loving you, or stop being my son. You did make a good point, even if you murdered someone I would still love you. So, if I would love you if you killed somebody, why would I stop loving you if you think you love somebody? One of those is obviously worse than the other."
"So you're not going to kick me out?"
"What kind of mother would I be if I did?"
I didn't answer that one.
"However, I still haven't changed my mind on other things. I still think it's wrong. I don't want that boy in my house, ever. I wish that you would honor my wishes and end things with him, but I know how stubborn you are. You are your father's son, through and through. I don't want to see him. Every time I do it just reminds me of what you do with him, and I don't want to think about that. It disgusts me. I would prefer that you ride with Joey to school, but I know you two don't get along. You could ride to school with Emily. She's such a nice girl."
"So you want me to ride in a car with a girl alone?"
"It would be better than riding with that boy."
"What if she tries to seduce me? Remember when she went around kissing all the boys at the Christmas party?"
Mom just looked at me. "This is not a joke Billy."
"Okay, so if Em blows me do you want me to tell you about it or is that too disgusting for you?"
"Billy, why do you have to be so difficult? I'm being more than fair with you."
"Was it fair when you and David got together without talking to me about it?"
Mom paused. She thought deeply about my question before she answered. "I... No. No it wasn't. I didn't take your feelings into account when I started dating him. I think it was fair that you felt like I had betrayed your father by going out with another man so soon after he died. I demanded more from you than you were ready to give. I understand why you were being difficult. You were getting sick and because you didn't trust me you didn't tell me what was wrong with you. I think your behavior was understandable under the circumstances. Just like I think that you should take my concern for you more seriously."
"Here's the thing, mom. I know I was being a jerk. I know I treat David like a dick, and he's actually been an okay guy, sort of. But I know that you love him, and I guess he loves you too. That's all I'm asking from you. You don't have to celebrate my love for Brett, I just want you to respect us as two people who know what we're doing."
"I do respect you. But that doesn't mean that I agree with you. I'm not trying to push you away, I'm trying to bring you closer. I'm trying to save you from yourself!"
"I don't need you to save me from myself or from Brett. I wouldn't have made it through this year without Brett."
"Billy, I wanted to help you! But you closed yourself off from me and distanced yourself from me! You won't let me help you!"
"You don't understand, mom. To you, this whole argument is about sex. But it's not about sex, it's about love! I love Brett, and I loved him long before I had sex with him. I would still love him if we never had sex again. But that wouldn't be fair to either of us. No one is asking you to not have sex with David. I just want what you have. Isn't that fair?"
Mom sat down in a chair and ran her fingers through her hair. "This is worse than arguing with your father. Okay. We're not going to solve this tonight. Let's just call a truce for now. Keep that boy away from me and don't flaunt what you do with him around town. That's fair enough. I won't even ask you about him. As far as I'm concerned he doesn't exist. Don't bring him around. Don't even talk to me about him. I don't want to know your business. You're going to be eighteen in a few days. It'd be silly of me to treat you like a child. In so many ways you've matured and earned the right to live your life your way. I couldn't have had this conversation with you a year ago. You would have blown up and thrown a fit. Can you live with what I've asked?"
"Isn't Pastor Carl going to be mad that you're letting a sinner like me stay in your house?"
"Billy, Pastor Carl and I have had many conversations about this. He knows that every situation is different. You're not his son. Nate was a wicked child who gave Carl no choice. Pastor Carl doesn't hate you, Billy. He loves everyone. He wants to help you if you'd give him a chance."
"I think you mean he wants to brainwash me. No thanks."
"I would expect that to be your answer. Well, you don't want to leave do you?"
"And neither I nor David want you to go, so I don't think you should worry about that. To be honest, I didn't expect you to drop your insulin pump and leave yesterday. That's not what I wanted – I wanted you to choose me over him. Obviously that was a mistake and I'm sorry I did that to you. All I ask is that you respect my wishes as far as keeping that boy out of this house. What you do with him at his place is on his mother's head, not mine."
"Okay," I replied. "And `that boy' does have a name. Brett loves you, you know, and it's really hurt him the way you've treated him."
Mom sighed. "Billy... Don't do this to me. This is painful enough. Please don't mention his name around me again."
We entered into an uneasy truce. Mom kept her word and left me alone, never asking me about Brett or asking me to dump him. I didn't bring Brett to the house or talk about my love life with her, not that I wanted to talk about sex with my mother anyway. And Brett once again became my ride to school since, after all, he wasn't coming into the house, he was just picking me up. Brett wouldn't go into the house, even if mom and Dave weren't home.
So the week went by just like Monday had without incident. I was beginning to build hope that maybe the school wasn't planning for my death. My relationship with Miss Winston was a little bit frosty, more `student and teacher' than it had been before I blew up at her. I didn't hang around after class and she didn't talk to me about anything besides school stuff. Joey and I happily went back to the cold war that we'd been in for the last year, neither having much to do with the other. And for the most part life went on as usual. Maybe I'd survive senior year after all!
When Saturday came, I breathed a sigh of relief. The week hadn't been too bad! It was my last day as a seventeen-year-old and I was excited. It felt like so many doors were waiting to be opened when I turned eighteen. I was planning to spend the night at Brett's place, and then when I got home on Sunday mom was planning to take me out to eat. She was in for a surprise the next time she saw me. Everybody was.
Early in the afternoon I left my house with my stuff and walked up the hill into the woods. When I got to the crossroads, I turned left and walked down to Dustin's place. It wasn't too cold outside, but it still felt good to walk into the warmth of Dustin's house. He greeted me and led me inside.
"Mom's not here today, so we have the place to ourselves," Dustin said.
"Cool. You know why I'm here."
"You sure you want to go through with this? It's a big step."
"I'm sure. I've wanted to do this for a long time, and I wanted you to be the one to do it for me."
"I'm honored. Well, we might as well get it over with. You should probably take off your shirt. You mind if I get a picture?"
"That's a good idea," I replied.
Dustin took my picture and then I walked with him up to his room where I took off my shirt and threw it on his bed.
"You're sure about this? Once we do it there's no going back."
"I'm positive," I insisted. "I can't take it anymore."
"Okay, sit on the stool there and we'll get started."
I sat down as Dustin instructed. He reached into his bookbag and withdrew a pair of electric shears he'd borrowed from a friend of his. He plugged them in and clicked them on. The buzzing sound of the shears filled the room.
"Last chance," Dustin warned.
I sighed, looking in the mirror one last time at the mop of hair I had asked Dustin to destroy for me. It had taken me almost two and a half years to grow, and in just a few minutes it would all be gone. "Chop it," I insisted.
Dustin grabbed a handful of my wavy blond locks. The clippers whined as they hacked their way through the thick cord of hair. Once he'd chopped through it, he offered it to me. "There you go, the first cut!"
"Don't stop now!" I replied. "Take it all off!"
It took a lot longer than I'd imagined for Dustin to make any progress. Apparently you can grow a whole lot of hair in two and a half years. Dustin remarked that maybe he should have brought a weedwhacker instead of a pair of clippers, but he kept hacking away taking off more and more of my mane. He had to turn the clippers off a few times to keep them from overheating. After about fifteen minutes, I began to feel the clippers buzzing against my head. Dustin put a guard on the blade to keep from scalping me instead of giving me a buzzcut. Finally, after about a half hour of work, Dustin turned off the clippers for the last time.
"There you go! All done!"
I turned to look into the mirror. "Holy shit! It's me again!" The boy with the closely sheared haircut looked back at me from the mirror. All around my feet lay over two years' worth of golden hair.
"You don't look like the Cowardly Lion anymore," Dustin said, admiring his work. "I'd offer to give you a shave too, but why bother? It'd take you two more years to grow anything on that babyface of yours worth shaving."
I rubbed my hands all over my head, enjoying the feeling. I felt a hundred pounds lighter than I had before.
"Your hair looks brown now that it's cut," Dustin observed.
"Yeah. The longer it gets the blonder it looks. I'm just glad it's gone. Can I take a quick shower?" I asked.
"Yeah, let me get it ready for you," Dustin replied.
I followed Dustin into the bathroom and he grabbed a wash cloth and some soap for me to use, and then he left me alone. I quickly stripped off my pants and underwear and removed Navi, then I jumped in the shower. It didn't take very long now that my hair was a foot shorter. I watched as the drain quickly clogged up with hair remnants, which I cleaned up before shutting off the shower. I stood there for a second and just enjoyed the feeling of being refreshed. I stepped out of the shower and realized I didn't have a towel, just as Dustin opened the door and walked in.
"I forgot to give you a... Oh! Sorry!" Dustin stopped in his tracks when he saw my naked body. His eyes very obviously shot downward and then back to my face. He just stood there frozen with the towel in his hand.
"So are you going to give me the towel?" I asked awkwardly.
"Oh yeah!" Dustin replied. He shook his head and handed me the towel. I started to dry myself off with it, another process that would be a lot easier without having to dry so much hair.
"Ummm... Are you planning to watch me dry off the whole time?" I asked.
Dustin blushed. "Oh! Right! Sorry! It's just..."
"It's not like you haven't seen me naked before," I said with a laugh. I took the towel and wrapped it around my waist.
"It's been a while," Dustin said. "You look good. You can tell that you've been working out. Anyway, let me get out of your hair." He awkwardly backed out of the bathroom and closed the door. I finished drying off and put my pants back on. I stepped out of the bathroom and returned to Dustin's room where he was sitting at the computer Mike had given him playing a game. I grabbed my shirt off his bed and slipped it back on.
"I feel so much better!" I said.
"I'll bet you do. I was mad when they chopped mine off at the hospital, but I'm glad they did it now. Last year I let it grow about six months and then went to a good barber. I think it looks good now."
"Yeah, you always had great hair until you went and dyed it black."
"Well, at the time, I didn't really want to stand out. You know what I mean? A john would remember a red head who sucked his cock more than he would a kid with black hair. I was just a suck or a fuck, not someone who'd stand out. I didn't want to be recognized on the street."
"Yeah. I guess I never thought about why you did it. I just thought you were going through an emo stage."
"Well I was, but that was just a side effect of the whole prostitution thing." Dustin stopped his game and turned to look at me. "You know, some days I miss it."
"You miss being a rent boy?" I asked.
"In a way, yeah. I mean, it wasn't all bad. In a way, it was kind of fun. Most of the guys I was with were really nice. The only one who really hurt me was my dad. The johns were mostly just guys whose wives wouldn't suck them off. Guys give better blow jobs anyway. I was really good at it because I have, like, almost no gag reflex."
"You're not considering going back are you?" I asked.
"Oh no," Dustin said. "Those days are gone. I'm too old. Besides, the park's under lockdown at night now and cops are all over it. I figure the rent boys found someplace else. Wherever that is, I don't know. Once you're out of the scene you can't really get back in. Besides, I can't even think about getting fucked without getting sick."
"Really?" I asked.
"Yeah. I just... Dude, I almost died because of what my dad did to me. He didn't fuck me, thank god, but he did rape me with a broomstick. That wasn't exactly easy to get over, you know. That's the last thing that I ever had in my ass. I can't even think about putting anything else in there. I can barely get it up watching porn now. He really fucked me up. Seeing you naked was the first time I got an honest-to-god hard-on in weeks."
"Are you serious?"
"You want me to show you?" Dustin asked.
"No, I mean about it being the first time. You mean you can't get hard at all?"
"Apparently I can if I'm looking at you," Dustin replied. "I can't explain it."
"Wow, that is weird."
"Not really. I mean, I always thought of myself as gay-for-pay, but maybe not. Maybe I'm more queer than I thought. Maybe I need to switch to gay porn? I'll bet your boyfriend would lend me something good."
"Well, he gets his porn online mostly, but I'll bet he's got a few websites he'd tell you about."
"Cool. Because let me tell you, I'm getting a little desperate. I can't tell you the last time I got off. Most of the time, I don't even care. But today..."
"I wouldn't recommend telling Brett that I make you hard. Somehow, I don't think he would take that very well. And you guys have been getting along since you came back."
"Yeah, I'm as surprised as you are. I don't know. I guess when you almost die in someone's living room it changes things between you. He was kind of the reason I came back. I was content to just stay in Pittsburgh and not come back, but he convinced me to come home. I'll be honest, I understand now why you always liked him so much. I never got it because all I ever saw was his nasty side. But he's really nice. I wish we would have been friends years ago instead of always being jerks to each other."
"That was always my wish too. I'm really glad to see it now."
"Yeah..." Dustin said. "Oh! Before you go, I have to get another picture!"
Dustin grabbed his camera off his dresser and took a new picture of me, so that he would have a before-and-after shot of me. When he got the film developed, he promised that he'd show me the difference. After that, I thanked him again, gave him a hug and set out for Brett's house. I couldn't wait for Brett to see my new look. But as I left, I couldn't help but think about Dustin's plight. I guess because he looked so much healthier on the outside that I never really considered how wounded he still was on the inside. I wondered what other damage had been done to him that was yet to be uncovered.
Thanks for reading! Goodbye long-haired Billy! We'll miss your flowing blond locks!
You can reach me at email@example.com
Next time: Eighteen and Life