W.A.R. Part Seven - Dustin's World

(2nd edition)

Chapter Twelve - The Fight at the Funeral

by Jeff Wilson

Dustin arrived at the viewing for Joey on Sunday evening planning to simply pay his respects and slip away unnoticed. It would be the first time he would see many of his classmates from high school since the day he graduated. He still hadn't bothered to shave, and he didn't even care. He felt like there was a tight knot in the pit of his belly.

The parking lot was full of cars, and the line into the funeral home stretched all the way out the door. The conversations Dustin overheard dwelt on Joey's young life and what a shame it was that such promise had been snuffed out before its time. The line slowly worked its way into the crowded funeral home. Every once in a while, Dustin would run into someone he knew from work or school and they would make small talk for a minute or so. Once the line made it into the main room where Joey's body was, he saw a lot of people he knew.

The placement of the people in the room told the story of Joey's life. Joey's father and Brett's mother were on one side of the room. Joey's mother and Brett were on the other side. Joey was stuck in between them, just like he had been in life. Dustin wasn't surprised that Brett had made his stand by placing himself on the opposite side of the room from his parents. That side of the room also had drawn the most people, as friends of Brett from college had come to comfort him. The side of the room with Joey's dad was filled with the important members of the community, people like Sarah's parents, the superintendent of the school district, the mayor, and the police officer who had arrested Dustin. Dustin tried to quietly make his way through the crowd, but being taller than most, he inevitably attracted attention. He saw his favorite teacher, Miss Winston and her partner, Susan. They chatted about how Dustin's life was going and how he was doing in college. Then he saw the one person he'd been dreading seeing. As soon as he made eye contact with Sarah Taylor, she made a beeline right to him and dragged him off to a quiet place in the funeral home where they could talk for a moment in private.

"What was the deal with the rock through my window?" Sarah asked.

"Yeah... I..."

"Look, I'm sorry about daddy. You can't blame him for being upset. He was so angry with me and he took it out on you. I didn't even tell him about the rock. I told him I broke a mirror in my room and refused to let him inside."

"Why'd you do that?" Dustin asked.

"Because I thought you'd been through enough," she replied. "He would have tried to have you arrested or something crazy. I'm sorry things worked out the way they did. I never wanted to hurt you."

"Well you did. But I guess we both hurt each other, didn't we?"

"We did. But we were never meant to be anything more than what we were. Two lost souls finding a little bit of comfort with each other, numbing our pain with a bit of physical pleasure."

"I guess so," Dustin sighed.

"So what was with the `AIDS test' thing? You trying to tell me something? Do you have it?"

"I don't know. I was with someone who does before I was with you who didn't tell me about it. That was the whole reason I went over there. I wanted to tell you in person, but then it all went to shit."

"And he didn't tell you?" Sarah asked. "What a jerk!"

"Yeah," Dustin said sadly.

"I hope we can still be friends after all of this. You're a sweet guy, Dustin. I wish things had worked out differently."

The two of them shared one last kiss together and wished each other the best. And then they returned to the main room, which was just as crowded as it had been before. The line continued to stretch out of the building as people came to pay their respects. Dustin searched the room looking for Billy, but he wasn't surprised that he didn't see him anywhere. The big crowd would have been too overwhelming for him. Dustin got into the line to talk to Brett. While he was standing there, someone came up behind him and tapped him on the shoulder.

"Hey Dustin."

Dustin turned around to find himself face to face with Nate.

"You?!?!!?" Dustin said so loudly that the room suddenly got quiet.

Nate took a step back, startled by Dustin's angry response. "What's wrong?" he asked.

Dustin looked around at the suddenly quiet crowd. Not wanting to make a scene, but realizing he already had, he quickly fled the room and pushed his way through the crowd. He ran into Billy at the door.

"It's him!" Dustin cried.

"What?" Billy asked, pulling the headphones he'd been wearing off, so they dangled around his neck.

As Dustin and Billy were talking, Nate caught up to them.

"That's the guy!" Dustin said, pointing at the confused young man. "That's Nate!"

"I don't understand what's going on!" Nate protested.

"You've got a lot of nerve showing your face around here," Billy said.

"Why? Joey was a friend from church..."

"What the holy fuck is wrong with you fucking people?" Brett asked angrily, yet trying to keep his voice down as he came storming up to them. "This is a fucking wake for fuck's sake!"

"This is the guy!" Billy said, pointing at Nate.

"What guy?" Brett asked.

"He's the AIDS guy," Billy replied.

"I'm the what?" Nate replied.

Brett grabbed Dustin and Nate each by the arm and led them out the door of the funeral home and away from the crowd.

"So you're Nate Stevens?" Brett asked when they had found some privacy.

"I ought to punch you right in your stupid face," Billy snarled grabbing Nate by the shirt.

"Billy, back off," Brett warned.

"You know how much this guy fucked up all of our lives?" Billy protested. "He's the reason Pastor Carl went all psycho and tried to destroy our lives!"

"My father was a psycho long before I came along," Nate replied as he grabbed Billy's hand and forced him to let go and pushed him away.

"Don't fuckin' touch me," Billy snapped.

"Who in the world are you?"

"I'm Billy Roberts."

"Never heard of you," Nate replied.

"Your dad tried to ruin my life because I'm gay," Billy replied.

"Welcome to the club," Nate replied.

"Forget about all that for just a minute. Billy..." Brett grabbed Billy and pulled him back away from Nate. "Billy, let me handle this..."

"But he's..."

"Billy! Back the fuck off!"

"Whatever..." Billy grumbled.

Brett turned his attention back toward Nate. "Why didn't you tell Dustin you have HIV?" he asked.

"Because I don't!" Nate insisted.

"What do you mean you don't?" Dustin asked.

"Dude, where did you get this crazy idea? I don't have HIV! If I did, I would have told you!"

"Luke told me that you have it, you lying asshole!" Dustin replied.

"Luke? Why would he tell you... Oh..."

"What?" all three boys asked.

"He must know. He must know I slept with you!"

"How would he know that?" Dustin asked.

"Dude, it makes sense! I got tested after I found out Luke was cheating on me. I was negative, I swear! You're the only other person I've been with. He must have found out that you're the one I cheated with! I don't know how, but he must have figured it out! But how?"

"Big Red..." Dustin said. "He heard Dr. Thompson call me Big Red. If he had access to your chatroom logs..."

"That's how he found out about us," Nate confirmed.

"So wait," Billy said. "You're telling us that Dustin fucked Luke and then Luke told him you have AIDS to get revenge for him fucking you? What an asshole!"

"What do you mean you fucked Luke?!?!?" Nate asked.

"Oh shit..." Billy sighed. "He didn't... I mean..."

"Billy, I think we should go back inside," Brett suggested.

"I can't believe you! You fucked my boyfriend and then you accuse me of being the lying asshole in this situation?" Nate snapped.

"Look, it wasn't my fault! At least the first time it wasn't!" Dustin said, realizing how terrible the words sounded as soon as they left his mouth. "No wait..."

"The first time?!?!?" Nate exclaimed. "Jesus Christ, Dustin!"

"No! Nate, it was a sex party! I didn't see his face until after I'd already fucked him. And then Dr. Thompson and I did double..."

"Dude, just stop," Nate said. "You're sick! You know that? You're a fucking psychopath!"

"No I'm not! Nate, I'm sorry I fucked Luke. I was going to tell you. It just happened. It didn't mean anything!"

Nate sighed. "No... I'm sure it didn't... to you. I can't believe I actually thought you might be someone special. Like, I actually thought there might have been something special between us. But that was just stupid. God, do I know how to pick winners or what? You know what? You were right. You really are a heartless bastard. I don't know what I thought I saw in you but I was obviously mistaken. You're a soulless monster. It's appropriate you like fucking so much, because you're the biggest dick I've ever known! Stay the fuck away from me!"

Nate stormed off to his car.

"Nate wait!" Dustin cried, following after Nate, but too late to stop him from driving away with Dustin calling after him.

"I just had a serious case of déjà vu," Billy said as Dustin returned looking ready to cry. "Dude, I'm sorry. I didn't realize he didn't know."

"It's not your fault," Dustin replied. "This is all my fault. Everything is my fault. I ruined everything."

"He's just angry," Brett said.

"Can you blame him? God, I'm such a fuck-up! I need to get going. I'm sorry I caused a scene."

Dustin rode off on his motorcycle, but didn't return to his apartment. Instead he rode to Scott's house, fucked him repeatedly, and stayed there all night.

When Luke arrived at his apartment later that night, he found Nate sitting on the couch with his bags packed and waiting by the door.

"You have fun with Dr. Thompson?" Nate asked.

"You could say that... What's going on?"

"I hear I have AIDS," Nate answered as he stood to face Luke, his voice trembling.

"So he told you, huh? Good. I hope it scared him. It serves both of you right for what you did! How'd you find out? You go fuck him again? I thought you were going to the funeral home."

"Dustin went to school with Joey. I can't believe you could be so evil, Luke. You lied to me! You said you were going bowling! You said you've been too tired to have sex! But no! You've been going off to crazy sex parties and hooking up with Dustin yourself!"

"Big deal! I only went once. Dustin just happened to be there. I didn't even realize it was him fucking me until Dr. Thompson let me up for air. You'd have done the same thing."

"You asshole! All your high and mighty lectures and shit! All your talk about how horrible I was for cheating on you and how important our relationship was to you! It was just an act! It was all lies!"

"Hey, I wanted to work things out! You cheated on me, remember! How stupid do you think I must have felt when I found out that the whole time I was sitting right next to the guy who had his dick in you in my class? All that time you guys were laughing at me behind my back!"

"So you fucked him and told him I have AIDS? You're a sick bastard!"

Without thinking, Luke slugged Nate right in the face, knocking him to the floor. He immediately regretted it.

"Oh shit! I'm sorry Nate!"

Nate rose to his feet, his eyes filled with tears. "I'm leaving," he insisted.

"No... Nate, I'm sorry!"

"I know you are. But you just proved again why I can't stay here with you. You're not only a liar and a cheater, but you're a sick motherfucker. I can't live like this."

"Nate come on! I'm sorry! Where will you even go? Do you want to live on the streets again? You want to end up back on meth and heroin again?"

"I'd rather live on the streets than with you. Goodbye Lucas. Forever. Now you can go to all the fuck parties you want without having to lie. And you can quit pretending that you're so much better than me. You're a bigger whore than I ever was!"

"Nate, don't go!" Luke cried. But it was too late. The door slammed and didn't open again. Nate was gone and it was over. Luke was all alone.

Dustin awoke in the morning, naked and half smothered under Scott's nude body. Scott offered him breakfast, but Dustin told him he needed to get back home. It was clear to Dustin what he needed to do. It didn't matter what the results of his test were. It didn't matter anymore. When he got home, he typed up a letter and made two copies. One, he put on top of his computer. The other he folded up and put in his pocket. He wanted there to be no doubting by anyone about why he did what he was going to do.

"Everything's almost ready," he said.

For the love of God, Don't fucking touch Billy! Anyway, we're in the home stretch now. Four chapters to go! You can reach me at jkwsquirrel@yahoo.com

Next time - The Bang in the Building