Trials and Tribulations

by Billy

Chapter 3

Red Storm Rising

Joey just dropped his head, and laid it on his desk. I took a quick glance at Mr. Ison, and saw he was engrossed in something, not paying us any attention.

I was kind of in shock. I had never seen anything like this before, and I was afraid where this was going to take me; but I liked Joey, and I was scared for him. I didn't know why yet, but I was scared. I got up, and went over to Joey. I leaned over so only he could hear me, putting my hand on the back of his neck.

"Joey, we have to go to the bathroom, and see what I can do for you. Okay?" I asked.

He nodded, and slowly got up. I could tell he was in pain. I also felt like I was out of my element, but he's a friend, and I would do anything I could for him. So, I just had to suck it up, and do whatever needed to be done.

As we walked out into the hallway, I saw Roger, and yelled for him to wait up.

"Walk closely behind Joey, so no one can see his back." I told him.

Roger took a look at Joey's back seeing the dark patches of blood vivid against his pale shirt. Roger looked back, his eyes wide, as he nodded, and fell in behind us.

Joey hadn't said a word to me since we were on the bus. None was needed now, as his body was telling me everything I needed to know. He was in pain, ashamed, and sorry for involving me. I could tell by the tears in his eyes, his slumped shoulders, and the way he walked.

When we got to the bathroom door, I told Roger to go to his locker, and get a shirt for Joey to wear; Roger always had spare shirts for one reason, or another; usually because of PE. I thought they would fit, and if not, then it would be too big, and not too small. Roger took one last look, and left quickly.

I got Joey into the bathroom. Thankfully we were alone. I walked Joey over to the sinks. When we were in front of them I turned him to face me.

"Joey, I'm going to have to take your shirt off, okay?" I asked.

He looked into my eyes. They seemed to be searching for something. I just tried to open myself up to him, and let him find whatever it was he was looking for. Apparently finding it, he nodded.

I started unbuttoning his shirt. I took my time so I wouldn't pull on the shirt in anyway which could hurt him more. That's when I noticed all the red welts, plus the purple and yellow bruising on his chest and stomach. I tried to be real careful pulling his shirt tail out of his pants, but I caused him to wince just by tugging on his shirt. The sharp intake of breath alerted me to just how much pain he was in.

"You okay, Joey? Sorry if that hurt." I said looking up into his eyes.

"You didn't hurt me." Joey whispered, as he looked into my eyes. Even now, he couldn't stop trembling.

Having his shirt unbuttoned and out of the front of his pants, I turned him around. I was being as careful as I could to get the shirt out of the back of his pants without causing him more pain. I started to think if the situation was different, this could be erotic; but, that wasn't what I was here for now.

"Okay Joey, I'm going to pull the shirt off your shoulders now, and then off completely." I warned him before I went any further.

When I got the shirt off his back, I nearly puked. There were bleeding welts across his back like someone had taken a belt and tried to beat him to death. With just a glance, I could see not only the dark bruising, the welts, and blood, but also evidence of other beatings Joey had taken. I knew for Joey, I had to get my act together, or I was just going to make things worse. So I pushed breakfast back down, and turned Joey back around to face me.

"Joey, I'm no nurse, or doctor, yet it's clear we have to do something before all of that gets infected. I can try and clean it up some, but I think the paper towels in here will only make it worse. I have a handkerchief. Then again that's not good enough. It's too small"

The saddest eyes I've ever seen looked back at me. He looked totally defeated.

"You just met me Joey, but I think you know you can trust me. My Dad is the Circuit Court Judge here. Let me call him, and get a way to the hospital to get you taken care of. Your back looks really bad, too bad for me to be of any help."

"Andy, I'm scared." He said with his bottom lip quivering. Just looking at him, I could see the tears forming in his eyes, and he shook in fear. This whole thing had Joey terrified, that much I could tell.

Carefully, I put my arms around his neck, and pulled him to me in a hug. I could feel the tears running down my cheeks. The tears weren't only his; they were mine as well, mixed with his. My heart was breaking for this guy. Who hurt him this bad?

"Joey, I got to know. Who, who hurt you this bad? Was it your Dad?" I asked through our sobs.

He hugged me tighter, and nodded his head in response. I didn't know his Dad, but from what I did know already, the thought that I wouldn't be nice to him was the understatement of the century. How could any parent do this to any kid, much less their own kid? If this was what this Pastor thought was Christian love I wanted no part of it. I wanted to reach out and grab the man by his throat, then kick his balls all the way up to his throat, so I could choke his throat and balls at the same time!

I gently broke the hug, pulled out my cell phone, and stepped back a step. I looked Joey in the eyes.

"Joey, do you trust me?" I asked.

"Yes, Andy, I do." Joey said between sobs. He looked at me; his eyes begged me as he continued, "Please help me. I can't take it anymore."

Roger walked in as I hit two on my speed dial. His eyes grew wider as he took one look at Joey's back. I could see he wanted to talk, but I was already on the phone.

"Hold on Roger, I'm calling my Dad." I told him, as dad's secretary picked up.

"Hi Margie, this is Andy," I began telling her hurriedly. "I have an emergency, and I need my Dad's help. Is he in court?"

"Hi Andy, yes, your Father is presiding over a trial this morning." Margie knew I didn't normally call; so this immediately had her on alert. "What's the nature of the emergency?"

"Just tell him, alpha two, and we'll be waiting out in front of the school for transport to the hospital."

Years ago, because of a new found status that directly affected me, mom and dad came up with a system to communicate a dangerous situation with as few words as possible. Alpha one meant one of us was in danger, and alpha two meant someone with us was in danger. The alpha number was followed with a location.

"Margie, it's important that he knows what I just said immediately. Okay?"

"He has already been notified on his lap top in the court room. Go ahead and head outside for pick up." she told me. "Do I need to call for an ambulance?"

"No, Joey and I will be outside waiting. Bye, and thanks Margie." As I ended the call, Roger took another look at Joey, before facing me.

"Wait, what's going on Andy?" Roger asked, as he handed me his spare shirt.

"There's no time right now to explain. I need you to go to Mr. Horn, and tell him I've taken Joey to the hospital for medical treatment. I'll have some adult call him and explain later. Okay?"

"I'm on it." Roger paused, and looked over at Joey. "I hope everything works out for you Joey." Then he hurried out to tell Mr. Horn what he knew.

"Joey, let me help you with the shirt Roger brought."

"Thank you Andy, but I can do it." Joey said, as he took the shirt from me, and carefully pulled it on. Thank God it was black, so it wouldn't show any blood seeping through. Now, all I had to do was get him outside without being hurt further.

"Andy, you have no idea how much this means to me. I didn't know if I could ever trust anyone again. But, you make it so easy to trust. I'll tell you everything, just not right now. Okay?" Joey looked into my eyes; all I could see was the pain, and his hope that I wouldn't ask more of him now.

"You don't have to tell me anything, Joey." I took a breath. I knew some of what he was going to have to face, due to Dad's job. I figured I better be honest with him. "At some point though, you are going to have to tell some adult, so they can help me make things better for you. You barely know me or me you, but I feel something for you deep inside of me; in a place I didn't even know existed." I paused, and wondered if I had said more than I intended. In doing so, answered one of my own questions about myself, but I felt this was too important not to finish. "Those feelings are making me want to help you. If you'll let me, I will. For now, we need to head outside to catch the ride coming for us. I don't know who it'll be, but we can trust them, okay?" I was trying to reassure him.

"Okay." Joey smiled, and nodded at me.

<hr>

While I had been dealing with Joey in the bathroom, things were happening in my father's courtroom. Margie had sent the message directly to Judge Collins, as she had promised. It arrived on his screen just as the Assistant Commonwealth Attorney was questioning one of his witnesses. As it popped up on his screen, the questioning was interrupted.

"I object your honor, hearsay." The defense attorney said rising to his feet.

"Would both counselors approach?" Judge Collins asked. His tone made it clear that it really wasn't a question. Both attorneys quickly approached his bench.

"Gentleman, I have a family emergency which I must attend to immediately. Would either of you object to my adjourning for the day, and ruling on the hearsay objection first thing in the morning?" Judge Collins looked at both attorneys. They shook their heads no, and stepped back away from the bench.

"Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury, a situation has arisen unrelated to these proceedings, which demands my attention. Therefore you are excused for the day with the same admonishments I gave you at the end of yesterday. Do not discuss these proceedings with anyone. We'll pick up with the ruling on the defense's objection first thing in the morning at eight-thirty sharp. Have a good day." Judge Collins excused the jury. Everyone stood as the jury left the courtroom.

"We are adjourned until eight-thirty tomorrow morning." Judge Collins stood as soon as the jury was out of the courtroom motioning for the bailiff.

"Ben, it's my son. We need to meet him in front of the high school right away."

The bailiff radioed dispatch, alerting them there was a problem. Judge Collins raced to his chambers, removed his robe, grabbed his jacket, and walked back into the courtroom to exit the building.

"Judge, two Deputies will meet you at your SUV, escort you to the school, and aid you in anyway necessary." The bailiff quickly informed Judge Collins.

<hr>

Joey and I headed out to the front of the school. When we got outside, there were two Sheriff's cruisers with blue lights flashing, and parked in between them, was my Dad's blue SUV. Dad got out as soon as he saw us, and started walking towards us.

"Andy, what's wrong?" The concern in my Dad's voice made me want to cry.

"Joey has been almost beaten to death Dad, and it was by his father. I've promised I would help him. He has really bad cuts and bruises all over his upper body, front and back. He needs to see a doctor, not a school nurse."

Dad nodded, and helped me get Joey into the front passage seat of the SUV. As dad was walking around the front of the SUV, the Deputy in the lead car walked over to talk to him.

"Bob, we are heading to the hospital. Do me a favor; call Miss Anderson, at Department of Community Based Services. I want her to meet us at the hospital."

The Deputy nodded, and made some quick notes.

"Oh, and I want to have a State Detective to meet us there as well. Stay with us, but the lights won't be necessary Bob."

"Yes Sir. I'll call it right in, and have everyone at the hospital waiting for us."

I knew when Dad said to call Miss Anderson that she worked for child protective services. I had met her at one of the functions Dad had to go to. I watched as Dad hurried over to the driver's door of the SUV.

After dad got in, he looked over at Joey sitting in the front seat, and then glanced at me in the back. I knew he saw all the emotions and pain I was feeling for Joey written all over my face.

"Joey," Dad began, waiting till he had Joey's attention before he continued, "I'm Judge Collins, Andy's father. He's promised you that he would help you, and I will do everything in my power to see that he keeps that promise. You need to trust me so I can make that happen, Okay?"

"Yes sir," Joey whispered, as he gently nodding his head up and down.

"Good. Why don't you tell me what's going on as we head to see a doctor?" Dad tried to keep Joey at ease while we pulled away from the school.

"It started last summer, sir." Joey's voice was soft, and he seemed to be talking to the floor. "My Babe Ruth assistant baseball coach gave me a ride home one night after a game. The game was on a Wednesday night, so both my parents were at church. On the way home, the coach put his hand on my thigh as he was telling me what a good game I had, and how good I could be some day. He started rubbing my leg then, and told me that he would help me be as good as any player that ever played in the league."

Joey seemed to be looking for the words he wanted to use, so I leaned forward and put my hand on his shoulder to let him know I was here for him. He turned, looked at my hand, then looked up into my eyes, and smiled a half smile.

Looking forward and down at the floor board, he continued, "He made me feel special. My parents aren't the huggy, kissy type. I can't even remember the last time either one of them gave me a hug or a kiss. Coach was showing me attention and I liked it. I had prayed and prayed to God to help my Father to show me love and attention. And here was Coach Boland, who was only seventeen, just three years older than me, showing me what I've been praying for. So, I thought God was answering my prayers.

"As the coach rubbed my thigh, he looked over to me. I looked back and smiled, because I was very happy, and I wanted him to know it. I guess he figured that I was okay with whatever he had in mind, because the next thing I knew, he had pulled off onto a side road, parked, and turned off his headlights.

"He said he wanted to make me feel good, because I was his favorite player. I told him I wanted to make him feel good too. That's when he moved his hand up my thigh, and started rubbing my junk through my uniform. He asked if that felt good. I was scared, but it did feel good, and I told him so. He stopped rubbing me, and started unfastening my belt and uniform button. As we looked in each other's eyes, he unzipped my uniform, and put his hand inside my briefs. By this time, I was erect and afraid I was going to get into trouble no matter what I did. So I let him take a hold of me and jerk me off.

"That's when he kissed me. I had never been kissed like that before, by anyone. It felt good, and I liked it. So, I kissed him back as his hand stroked me. Then he stopped, had me raise my hips up, and he pulled my uniform down to my ankles. After he rose back up, he leaned in, and gave me a quick kiss on the lips. Then as he took me in his hand again, he leaned over and took me in his mouth." Joey stopped then. He was shaking as he sat there in the warmth of the truck.

Finally, Joey looked up at dad, and said, "I felt it was wrong, but it felt so good. I almost came right then, but he pulled down on my balls preventing me. It felt like it a million volts of electricity going through me forever, because every time I started to feel that I was going to shoot he could sense it, and he would pull on my balls again not letting me. I had been kinda… well… jacking off since I was thirteen, but when he finally let me cum, I had never felt anything like that before. I think I passed out for a minute or two. The next thing I knew he was kissing me. I could taste myself on his tongue, as he pushed it inside my mouth."

Dad cleared his throat. It wasn't often Dad seemed nervous, but he asked Joey, "For now, could you keep it less sexually descriptive?"

I thought, 'No shit Dad.' I was harder than a diamond drill. Don't get me wrong, I felt Joey had been taken advantage of by an older boy, but it was hotter than hell. I mean, I would have loved for a sexy older boy to have given ME a blowjob. Yet, I knew there was a lot more to this story.

Joey looked up at my Dad, and replied, "Yes sir. That was all that happened that night. He drove me home. When we got there, he went in with me, and talked to my Dad. He offered to drive me home after every game, if it would be helpful for my parents. My Dad agreed, and thanked him. I was happy with it, since it seemed my parents weren't even interested in watching me play."

Up until now, through this part of the story, his face seemed kind of neutral; but now, it changed to a sad look, as he continued, "I had never thought of myself as gay before. I still hadn't thought it through to be honest, but I went to bed that night happy. Someone, even if it was another boy, was showing me the attention I had been praying for. So when I prayed that night, I thanked God for bringing Eddie Boland into my life. The next time Eddie gave me a ride, things went as before, but he wanted me to do the same for him. I hadn't thought about this happening. Looking back, I should have, but I hadn't. He had made me feel good, and I wanted him to feel good too; so, I did the same for him that he had done for me the last time he gave me a ride home. As time went by, he started doing less and less until it was just me making him feel good. I think I would have lost interest in him completely, but he was still giving me the attention I wanted at the games, and took me places with him, like out for ice cream and stuff."

"After school started back up, I didn't see him except at school, but he never spoke to me, and things went back to as they were before. My grades fell from A's to B's with some C's. My parent's felt I wasn't applying myself as I should, and thought I was just being lazy. In a way, they were right. They just didn't know why. It wasn't that I was being lazy. I just stopped caring as much. I was lonely. I had friends and everything, but now I had this secret, and I had lost the attention I was getting to make up for the lack of attention I wanted from my parents. Eddie had been giving me the attention I hadn't been getting from my parents, but now he was gone too. For my parents, the church and its members were the most important thing. I just couldn't measure up." Joey paused again, and seemed to take what he had said so far in. It seemed to be forever before he began to tell us the rest.

"After being grounded a couple of times for my grades, I buckled down, and brought them back up. I learned how to put on a happy face, and my friends stopped asking what was wrong all the time. I stayed out of trouble, but I became more and more a loner. By the end of the year, I really didn't have any friends left. It wasn't that they didn't like me anymore; I had stopped being a friend to them."

I had been watching Joey's face closely; there was no happy face mask hiding his pain now. I could clearly see he was a lonely boy. I wanted him to know that he would never be alone again, if he would let me be there for him, and I started rubbing his shoulder.

He paused again, and turned to look at me. When our eyes met, I tried to pour my feelings into them. I wanted to let him know I would be his friend, and never walk away from him, no matter what. I don't know for sure what my feelings were for Joey, but I knew they were getting stronger by the minute, and I wanted him to know it.

He smiled like he understood what I was telling him with my touch and with my eyes. He brought his right hand up, and patted my hand on his shoulder. I took it in mine, and squeezed it. We were stopped at a red light, and Dad looked over at us. I didn't care at that moment what he thought of our display. Joey needed a friend, and damn it, I would be that friend no matter what anyone thought, including my Dad. I gave him a nod to continue.

He looked at my Dad, and said, "When summer baseball started, my Dad insisted I play. I don't know for sure if he thought it was good exercise for me, or a way to get me out of the house and from under afoot. When he took me to the first practice, Eddie was there, and volunteered to give me rides again this summer. Dad was all for it, and thanked Eddie for his thoughtfulness. Things kind of picked up from where they ended last summer. After games or practices, he would drive to an out-of-the-way place, and have me do things for him.

"One night when we got to the place he was going to park, someone was already there. Since I needed to be home soon, he drove me home. When we got there, the lights were off, and it looked like no one was home, except for the car parked in the driveway. He wanted me to do him in the driveway, before I went in. I was scared, and told him I didn't want to get caught. He kept telling me he would watch, and make sure we wouldn't.

"He pushed the seat back, and told me to get it out. I reached over and was unzipping him when the dome light came on, and he pushed me away saying, 'Get off me you fag!'

"Someone grabbed me by the shirt collar, pulled me out of the car, and threw me to the ground. When I looked up and saw my Father standing there looking down at me with disgust, I was like a deer caught in head lights. I didn't know what to say or do.

"That's when I heard Eddie say, "I can't believe he was fagging on me like that. I was tired and had just pushed my seat back to rest a minute before the drive home and the next thing I knew I felt his hands on my junk."

Joey dropped his head, and said, "I knew then, no matter what I told my Dad, I wasn't going to be believed. Eddie had skillfully told a story that fit what Dad had seen. Besides, what he was saying wasn't a total lie. I did have my hand on his junk as I was unzipping him. Dad told him to go home, and never to come around me again."

Joey shook his head, "Eddie jumped in his car and drove out of there like a bat out of hell, leaving me sitting on my ass scared to death.

"That's when dad grabbed me by the hair and pulled me to my feet. He told me to get my faggot ass to my room, to get ready for bed, since there would be no supper for me tonight, and that we would talk about this tomorrow. As I started to the house, he kicked me on the ass, and yelled, 'Move faster you son of Satan.'

"I ran as fast as I could to my room, with tears running down my face. I closed my bedroom door behind me, and just fell face forward onto my bed. I had my Dad's attention now, but it wasn't the type of attention I was looking for. Instead of seemingly indifferent towards me, he hated me now. Once he told Mom, she would too. For what seemed like forever, I could hear Dad yelling, and my Mom crying asking him what they were going to do with a faggot son. Finally, I couldn't take anymore, and I cried myself to sleep."

Tears were flowing down Joey's face now. It was breaking my heart. His father and mother were only thinking how other people would think of them having a gay son. His Dad didn't even ask him for his side of the story. I felt my own tears falling again.

"I woke the next morning with my pillow drenched from my tears. I guess I cried throughout the night. I rolled over and tried to collect my thoughts. I went through everything that was said and happened the night before. I started trying to figure out if I was a fag, and going to hell like my Dad preached. I didn't want to be different from other boys, but when I thought about it, I never really thought about girls in a romantic way. I didn't want to go to hell though. Maybe it was just a phase or something. Yet, when I was honest with myself, I knew I liked doing the things I did with Eddie. I loved it when he kissed me. I even liked the things he wanted me to do. Just when I decided I was a faggot and going to hell, my father came into the room, told me to get my faggot ass up, take a shower, dress in my Sunday clothes, and to meet him in the kitchen."

I so wanted to stop Joey here, let him know I was his friend, and if there was a hell, he wouldn't be going there; but, I know from hearing my Dad talking about court stuff, I shouldn't interrupt Joey.

"I took a shower and even though it was only Friday morning, I dressed in my Sunday clothes, suit and tie. I took a really close look at myself in the mirror for the first time in a long time. I saw a scared kid that didn't know what was going to happen next and knew his parents hated him for what he was, a faggot. Knowing there was nothing I could do about anything coming my way, I marched to the kitchen to meet my fate. When I walked into the kitchen, Dad was dressed in his Sunday clothes as well. He grabbed me by the arm and pulled me out the backdoor towards the church next to our house.

As we entered the sanctuary, I noticed there were several men waiting there for us. I realized after looking around that they were the Deacons of the church. Dad let go of my arm when we got in front of the altar, and told me to strip.

I was shocked, and I shook my head no. He slapped me hard across the face, and said, 'I told you to strip.' I pleaded with him not to do this. He slapped me again. I lowered my head in defeat, and started taking all my clothes off, laying them on the front pew. I was so ashamed and humiliated; the tears flowed from my eyes. All the men gathered around me, laid hands on my head, shoulders, back, chest, and then started praying for me. I closed my eyes doing my own praying for help, pleading with God to get me out of this. All of a sudden, I felt an open handed palm hit me hard enough in the forehead to knock me to the floor. Then my Dad started shouting, 'In the name and authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, we renounce all the power of darkness which may exist in this area or in the life of Joseph Matthew Adams for any reason. We bind all evil spirits assigned to Joseph Matthew Adams and forbid you to operate in any way, in the name of Jesus Christ. In the name of Jesus Christ, I command all evil spirits… get out now! Spirits of homosexuality get out in Jesus' name!'"

Joey stopped his story for a moment, while his body was wracked with tears. When he began to talk again, it was softly. "I can remember thinking to myself, 'Oh my God, they're performing an exorcism on me. They think I'm possessed.' It was clear that dad had told them about me, and they were trying to cast out a demon. I didn't know what to say or do. I started crying in shame and embarrassment. Then I heard myself mumbling, 'Jesus help me.' Over and over again I asked Him to help. They thought I was asking for Jesus to help save me from the demon, when I actually wanted Him to save me from THEM. They started praising God for saving me from Satan." Joey's voice began to crack, as he continued, "I swear to God, I couldn't help it, but I started to laugh at them. I told them I was asking God to save me from them. That's when the beatings started. Dad took off his belt, and started hitting me as hard as he could. I balled up trying to protect myself, but I was laying there naked. There wasn't much I could protect except my head and junk."

I was stunned listening to Joey talk. How could this have happened in front of a group of men? How had Joey been able to go on?

"I guess the ferociousness of his attack stunned even the deacons. One of them called out, 'Brother Adams, in the name of God, stop this madness!' Dad shook his head, and looked down at what he had done to me. But instead of saying he was sorry, or that he loved me, he said, 'I will not have a faggot son that's possessed live under my roof.'"

Joey's voice sounded raw. I was ready to cry just from hearing the pain and honesty in his voice, as he told Dad and me what had happened to him. However, Joey wasn't done with his story yet.

"I cried out, 'Dad, I'm not gay. I swear Eddie lied, and I swear whatever you think I did, I'll never do it again. Jesus is my Lord and Savior.' I was broken, and I needed my Dad's love and acceptance. I would do, or say anything he wanted me to say."

Joey was openly crying again, making his words hard to understand.

"Joey, it's okay. We understand. I think I would have said and done anything too if I thought my Dad didn't love me anymore." I told him, squeezing his hand again.

"He's right Joey. We do understand son. Just let it all out." Dad's voice was gentle, as he spoke, but I could see the anger in his eyes when he looked into the rear view mirror.

Joey composed himself as we pulled onto the hospital grounds, and continued, "There's not much more to tell. He had me dress and go home. As I left, the Deacons were praising God; because they were sure they had cast a demon out of me. I thought the horror story was over, but I was wrong. Whenever I made any mistake or forgot to do something I had been told to do, he beat me. Telling me I may have fooled the deacons, but I hadn't fooled him. He said he was going to beat the devil out of me if he had to. That the Bible said spare the rod and spoil the child. I guess about a month later, one of the church ladies noticed I had a black eye and some other bruising. She started asking some questions and the next thing I knew Dad announced we were moving because he had been transferred to Pine Hills. That was two weeks ago.

"Everything was fine through the entire packing and actual move here, until the first day of school. I had forgotten to call home, and let anyone know I was at your house, after school. I also didn't know that Mr. Horn had called my father to apologize for the way I was treated my first day of school. He explained what all had happened, the names, the punch, and my offer to volunteer to help with the concession stand. Mr. Horn was proud of my offer, and told dad he thought I was going to make a fine student. But the only thing my father heard was I had been called out as a faggot, and got my ass kicked for it. So when I did get home, he told me we had to move here because of my faggot behavior, and we weren't moving again. He started hitting my sides with his fists and kicking me until I fell to the floor. Then he took off his belt and started hitting me as hard as he could, while my Mother stood there and watched, until I passed out. When I woke up on the floor, my Mother told me to go to my room and stay there until one of them told me otherwise. I don't know what time it was, but when I got to my room, I just collapsed on my bed, and didn't move until my Mom woke me the next morning.

"She said I would be staying home that day, and if I didn't cause any problems, I could go to school the next day. I stayed in my room all day yesterday. No meals were offered, and I was too scared to ask. Last night Dad came into my room, told me he had called the school, told them I had a doctor's appointment, and helped finish unpacking afterwards. He said if anyone questioned me about it that that was what I was to tell them. I just nodded, too afraid to speak. He got up and left. I guess today in class, Andy noticed blood on my shirt, and called you for help."

He finished as dad pulled up to the emergency room ambulatory entrance. Dad got out, and came around to help me get Joey out of the SUV. When I looked up, I could see the tears falling down Dad's face. I hadn't seen my Dad cry since my mom died. We walked in, with the two Deputies following us. Dad looked around and stopped a nurse.

"I want this boy examined, all injuries documented, photographed, and treated immediately. All questions can and will be answered by Miss Anderson of The Department for Community Based Services, or his attorney when he arrives. Is that understood?" Dad said to the nurse who clearly knew who he was.

"Yes sir." She said, and told me to follow her to an empty room with Joey. As we followed her I overheard my Dad tell the Deputies to check the lobby for Miss Anderson and the State Detective. He then walked outside, and pulled out his phone; I assumed to make a phone call.

She told Joey to take off his shirt, and that she would be right back. After she left, I helped Joey take off his shirt for the second time today.

While Joey and I were waiting on the nurse to return, Dad walked in. His eyes widened in disbelief as he saw Joey for the first time without his shirt on. I was seeing that anger again in his eyes I saw in the rear view mirror of the SUV when Joey had been telling his story. He walked behind Joey and looked at his back as well. I could see tears falling down his cheeks. He quickly tried to wipe them away, but there were too many. Then he got in front of Joey who was sitting on some type of raised bed, squatted down to be eye level with him, and looked him in the eyes. There was no doubt in my mind that Joey could see how much my Father cared by his tear streaked face.

"Joey, I swear to you on my life, no one will ever hurt you again like you have been hurt. The doctors are going to examine you, take some pictures so we can prevent this from happening again, and then fix you up. Once all that is done, we are going to find you a safe home and a loving, caring family for you. Is that okay with you?" Dad asked.

"Yes sir, I want that very much. Thank you, sir." Joey looked at my Dad with hope, his voice was barely a whisper, but for a moment he looked happy.

"WHERE IS MY SON? I WANT TO SEE HIM RIGHT NOW OR I WILL SUE EVERY ONE OF YOU!" Someone shouted on the other side of the door.

I saw the happy look that was on Joey's face vanish, his body tense; when it did, I saw pain flicker across his face. My father saw Joey's reaction also. Due to Joey's reaction, we then knew who was doing the shouting. I placed my hand on Joey's shoulder for support, as my father moved in front of Joey to protect him. I could feel how badly Joey was shaking with fear.

The sound of his Father's voice had Joey nearly jumping out of his bruised and battered skin. Dad looked at me with sadness in his eyes, and I looked back at him with flames of hatred in mine. I nodded yes to his unvoiced question, letting him know I had no doubt from the way Joey was reacting that the voice we were hearing did indeed belong to Joey's Father. Dad looked back at Joey as we began to hear several loud voices now out in the main emergency room.

"Joey, as I promised, everything is going to be fine." My father seemed to change then, from my easy going Dad to Judge Collins in an instant. Then he looked back at me, "Andy, you and Joey stay right here. Do not, for any reason leave this room. Is that understood?"

"Yes." We both answered at the same time. Dad turned and left the room.

I got up and rolled a stool over to the bedside. With as hurt as Joey was, I simply wanted to look at him and not have him bend more then he needed to. From the first day I met Joey, I knew I liked him. I don't know how to explain it. I just knew that he would be a good friend. Something deep inside me was telling me I had to get to know him and be his friend. When I had first met Joey I noticed he was the athletic type, and he was drawing the attention of the girls at school too. That day at my house he seemed so carefree and happy. Now, Joey seemed to have the weight of the world on his shoulders, and the pain he was feeling was real. Emotionally, he had been hurt as badly as he was physically. As I looked into his sad eyes, I realized I was feeling something more than a tug of friendship towards him. I was feeling a real attraction to him. As looked at his injuries now, I prayed, 'Please God, help me to take away his pain.'

I realize that almost from the moment I met Joey, things in my world changed. When I had seen what JT was trying to do to Joey, I found I went into protect mode with him. Then after I saw the bruises and the blood on his body while I helped him remove his shirt in the restroom, I wanted to hurt whoever had done this to him just as badly. Even now, I wanted to run out into the emergency room and beat his Father so horribly that he would hurt as terribly as Joey did. I can't remember when I have ever been this angry before. If I had my way I would tie him to the statue in front of the Court House, take a whip to him, and let him feel the pain, the same pain he had cause my Joey right now.

My Joey, those two words hit me like a ton of coal. There may be times I can be as bright as the bottom of a coal bucket, but today, right now, I knew I had to put down that anger and allow my other feelings to show and be known. Joey needed me to be here to support him. I moved closer to Joey, kicking the little foot step out of my way so I could move to where he was sitting on the edge of the bed and between his knees. I took both of his hands in mine and leaned over placing a single kiss on the back of each hand.

"Joey, I can't explain why or even exactly how I feel. This is all new to me. When I saw the back of your head that first morning on the bus, I wanted to know you." I was nervous but I had to get this out. I took a deep breath and continued before Joey could say anything. "When I saw JT hit you, I wanted to tear his head off. When I saw your cuts and bruises this morning, I wanted to badly hurt whoever done that to you. Right now my anger at your Father is boiling to the max." I kept looking him in the eye; however I also found myself stroking his hand as I talked. "But I think what's so scary to me was when you turned and looked at me that first morning in homeroom. I felt like I was seeing the face of an angel. When our eyes locked and you smiled at me, I felt like I was going to burst. Every nerve ending in my body was firing. I had this irresistible urge to kiss you." I grinned. "If we had been alone, I probably would have."

Joey started to speak, but I stopped him with my index finger to his lips.

"Please, let me finish first or I'll never get it out." I quickly said and he nodded yes. I was afraid to look at him as I blurted out the rest. "You have been through a lot this past year. I think you've been though more than most people could take. You told dad and me that you had come to realize you were gay. Just because you're gay and I'm pretty sure I am that doesn't mean we are both attracted to each other. But,"

He put a finger to my lips and stopped me. "Andy," he started with a smile. Looking from my lips and then into my eyes, he continued "shut up and kiss me. You had me at hello."

I put my hands by his knees on the bed, rose from the stool, leaned towards Joey and slightly turning my head to the right I timidly brushed my lips against his. They joined ever so softly at first. This was my first real kiss but somehow I knew what to do or maybe it was pure instinct that took over. I felt his tongue hesitantly probing my lips and I happily granted its admittance. WOW my first French kiss! I had seen the movies and read a lot of boring books with true love kisses with all the bells, whistles, and fireworks exploding everywhere. Oh my God, I was not disappointed. I never wanted this kiss to end, because right now I felt everything was perfect.

However nothing ever goes totally the way I want it to. We were right in the middle of a kiss that I knew I was never going to forget when the door started to open. I was just starting to get the hang of kissing, but the sound of the door ended that. I jumped away from Joey like a scalded dog falling back over the doctor's stool busting my ass on the floor. I looked up at Joey's shocked face and then towards the door to see the nurse walk in with one of those hospital gowns in her hand. She looked down at me sitting on the floor and smiled.

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