Knots, Book 4
by Elias Scott
I almost forgot to tell you what happened after we left Andy's. I let my parents walk ahead of me and enjoyed the silence as I wondered what I was going to do about the money. Should I give it all to them? Was my first question. How was I going to keep them from knowing the total amount I made or how would I separate some money out if they followed me to the garage to get it? Maybe I should tell them I don't want them to see my hiding place because it's private.
My dad had his arm around my mother's waist while she leaned her head against him. Her tears seemed to have stopped. My dad turned back to glance at me once with a disappointed look on his face. The ironic thing was, I didn't have any regrets about telling them. Andy and I had been afraid of what might have happened, but in the end, we figured it would be worse not to say anything. At least we hoped it was true.
My parents walked in ahead of me and went right to the dining room table. My dad pointed at a chair across from them. "We need to talk some more about this. Sit down"
I stayed standing. "Dad, it's late and I have school tomorrow."
He pointed at the chair again and raised his voice. "I said, sit down."
He slammed his fist on the table. "You know what, Matt. I don't give a shit about what you think or about you having to go to school tomorrow." My dad had never said anything more than damn in front of me before. "I have to go to work to put food on the table and clothes on your back, so I don't want to hear it. We need to talk." He paused for a second. "Get the money."
I stood. "Okay." The tone of his voice scared me.
He didn't follow me. I edged my way past the car to the cabinet where the money was hidden. The car wasn't usually in the garage when I hid the money so it was hard to get to. I reached under the cabinet, pulled the money out, and stood there trying to decide if I should give it all to him or keep a couple hundred, when I heard a noise and saw my father standing at the door. He spotted the stack of bills in my hand. "My God. How much did you make? I know what you did for it and I have to tell you it's hard for me to believe you're my son."
"Ninety-two hundred dollars."
"Ninety-two hundred dollars?" he screamed.
My dad dropped his head and began to cry. I'd never seen him cry before. I walked up to him with the money in my hand. "Here, Dad. Take it."
He looked up and I saw a look on his face that made me cry too. We both stood there by the doorway into the house crying. Then he surprised me. He pulled me into a hug and held on tight as if he might lose me if he let go. I put my arms around him and held on tight too. My mom came to the door and said nothing.
My father pulled away and looked me directly in the eyes. "We taught you that God loves us unconditionally, and we'd be hypocrites to act otherwise. But Matt, you're making it hard. We expected more out of you, and we think maybe we failed you in some way."
I held up the money, but he didn't take it. "Let's go into the house."
We went back to the table and my mother took the money out of my hands. "Matt, when I look at this money all I can see are images of you with older men." She started to cry again. "Selling yourself to them and doing all kinds of things I'd never expect from you. I don't know if I'll ever be able to get the images out of my mind or see you in the same way again. It's like I don't know you."
"The images are in my mind too, Mom. I sunk pretty low. One thing just led to another. Andy and I never planned for this to happen. Sex took over our lives. I didn't think it could happen to me. I thought I was stronger than that."
My dad pursed his lips in thought. "The question is, where do we go from here? Your sex drive isn't going to go away. You've done things most teenagers never think about, never mind doing." He turned to my mom. "I think we should send him to counseling."
"I don't need a shrink. I'm fine. Things'll be okay."
"Matt, it's not like you stole a few dollars out of your mother's purse or out of my wallet or played a prank on the neighbors. You sold yourself to other men. Do you think this is normal behavior for a sixteen-year-old boy?"
"No, but what can a shrink do?"
"I have no idea, but I think you need to talk to someone other than your parents. Andy needs to do the same. I'm going to call his dad when we're through here."
It felt like I was a rat caught in a trap. "I don't want to go. I won't go. You can have the money and put it in a savings account or spend it, but I don't walk to talk to a shrink. That wasn't part of the deal."
My mother set the money down and reached out and grabbed my hand. "Matt, the deal was we wouldn't go to the police or to Derrick. That's all you asked. Now it's time for us to act like parents, and you're going to a shrink whether you like it or not."
"I'm just going to sit there then. There's no way I'm going to talk about this stuff."
My dad threw his hands in the air. "Fine, but you're still going. I heard of a teen counselor that works on Saturdays; this way it won't interfere with school or football. I'll talk to him tomorrow."
"Maybe I don't want to play football anymore. How would that be?"
My dad got up and started pacing like he usually does when he's thinking. He returned to the table. "We need to calm down. You are playing football because you made a commitment to the team. You're staying on the team for them, not for you. We expect you to honor your commitments to your teammates. Second, you talked about running for Junior Class President. We could say no, but we want you to run. You may have done some stupid things over the summer, but there's no need to continue doing them. You need to do your best to begin to live a normal life again."
I stood and then sat down again. "I won't win. No one's going to vote for me. There's all kinds of rumors going around school, and of course everyone knows about everything we did because of Dillon's trial."
My mom got up from the table. "Just a minute." She opened the refrigerator and pulled out a cake she'd made earlier in the day. "I think it's time we had a piece of this." She set it on the table, grabbed some plates and forks, and cut us each a piece. My dad and I looked at her like she was crazy.
She pointed at our plates. "Eat!"
Sometimes moms know just what to do. I took a bite and it calmed me. "Are you serious about me running for class president?"
"Yes. Win or lose, the experience will do you good and maybe it will keep you out of trouble for a while. You're still grounded, but we expect you to do your best at school and at football practice. Got it?"
"Yeah, Dad. I got it. But I still don't want to see a shrink."
"Sorry, but you have no choice." My dad picked the money up off the table and shook his head. "I'll take the money from your summer job and put it in the bank."
He said it like I'd gotten it from mowing lawns rather than prostituting myself. "OK. When do I have to start with the shrink?"
"I'm going to try for this Saturday. I'll let you know. I think it's time we all went to bed."
I could hear my parents talking from my bedroom. They had to be talking about me and my summer job. I don't know how I managed, but I fell asleep while they were still talking. That day had to be the longest day of my life.
My parents stood at the end of my bed just staring at me after the Spences left. My dad shook his head and my mother continued to cry.
Things went somewhat like they did at Matt's house. I couldn't get out of bed and run and get the money so I had to tell them where I stashed it. Sure didn't want to because there were condoms, lube, dildos, porn, and over $10,000 in my stash box where I hid everything. It was one of the best wood projects I'd ever completed in woodshop.
My dad returned from my room with the money in one hand and a bag full of all my paraphernalia in the other. He held up the bag. "I don't think you'll be needing any of this," he said matter-of-factly.
I was too tired to argue.
My dad walked to the edge of my bed, set the cash and paraphernalia down on the bed, and put his hand on my arm. "Andy, this hurt a lot. But we're glad you told us. It's a lot better than finding out after they arrested you, Matt, and that guy Derrick. But what were you thinking? We know you're gay. While we didn't approve of you having sex so young, we figured that if you were having sex, it was with Matt, Thomas, or Randy. But selling yourself?" He took his hand away, picked up the money and started counting it. Most of it was in hundreds, fifties, and twenties so it took a while. He shook his head the whole time he was counting while my mother continued crying.
He surprised me when he said, "I'm surprised you can still walk." Then he gave me a sad look. "Sorry, you know what I mean." He patted the cast on my leg.
"Yeah, Dad, I do."
We both let out a small smile. Sometimes humor is the only way to deal with sad times.
The phone rang. It was Mr. Spence. I couldn't hear what Mr. Spence said, but my dad replied, "I agree. Counseling is a good idea…I've heard of Dr. Walker…Andy's regular doctor is putting him in a wheelchair Wednesday…Saturday should be fine. I'll drive him."
There was a pause.
"I agree. It was one hell of a night, wasn't it? Get back to me about Saturday."
Terror struck me as soon as I heard the word counseling. Damn, I didn't want someone looking inside my head. And wouldn't you know it, I'd be rolling around in a wheelchair just in time for the first session.
I protested at first, but it didn't do any good. My mom and dad had my money, our secret, and my life in their hands. And while I fought it, I was glad to give my life back to them after selling it to everyone else.
A week that could have been filled with terror, went pretty well. All our friends were back together at our lunch table. Thomas and Colton were boyfriends. I didn't know they became a couple because I was too busy with my summer activities. Colt looked like he was of mixed race. He had beautiful light brown skin and handsome features. He was a little heavier than Thomas, but looked good in his clothes and could only make one wonder what he looked like without them. The two of them made a great looking couple. Boy that sounds so teenager, doesn't it? So now we had one more member at our table.
Jackass Barnes, Frank Kutcher, and a few others called it the gay table.
Wednesday of that week, Barnes came by with Frank, "Well, if it isn't the gay table."
Alan and Ernie stood. "Jackass, it's time to knock this shit off," Ernie spat out.
Barnes stopped. "And what are you going to do about it?"
Ernie got in his face. Ernie stood about two inches above Barnes and outweighed him by forty pounds. Ernie looked down at Barnes. "The question is, what are you going to do about it if I decide to kick your ass?"
Barnes stepped back. "Well, nothing here. I don't want to get suspended, otherwise I'd kick the shit out of you."
Ernie laughed. "How about after practice?"
Barnes came back with a quick reply. "Can't, got to get home."
"I can see from your attitude that you won't be calling this the gay table anymore, right?" Alan asked.
"I didn't say that."
"Then I'll guess we'll have to fight," Ernie replied. "Either that or you knock this gay table crap off."
Frank Kutcher nudged Barnes. "Let's go. We have better things to do than waste our time with these guys."
That was the out Jackass needed. "Yeah, let's leave these guys to do whatever it is they do." With that, they walked off. They never did call it the gay table again, at least to our faces.
Kutcher sill had the starting job that week. My mind was more into football now that we'd bit the bullet. At least we avoided the possibility of being arrested, having our parents report Derrick to the police, and going through another trial. If that had happened, the whole school would have known, and we'd have be in deeper shit that we already were.
My dad was able to get Dr. Walker to see Andy and me on Saturday. Dr. Walker thought it would be best if we met together the first time and then met separately on alternate Saturdays.
Andy and I sat outside his office fidgeting. Andy's dad had rolled him into the office in a wheelchair, patted him on the shoulder, and left. Andy still had one arm in a cast, so his parents rented an electric wheelchair that he could control with his good arm and hand. He kept playing with the switches which caused him to roll back and forth as if he was pacing. I sat in one of the chairs with my eyes following Andy and trying not to think about what would happen next. There was a certificate on the wall, which I assumed was his license. All I could make out was the name Joe Walker which was printed in large letters.
The door opened and Dr. Walker stepped out. He greeted us with a firm handshake, introduced himself, and motioned for us to go into his office. His office wasn't what I expected. There wasn't a couch like you see in the movies. His office had five leather chairs and the one I sat is was the most comfortable chair I'd ever sat in. His chair sat at one end and the other four chairs were aligned in a semi-circle facing him. He was tall and solidly built. He had a nice smile. He pushed a strand of his dark gray hair out of his face, and motioned for me to sit in the chair to his right. He removed the chair to his left and turned to Andy, "Just move your wheelchair here."
He sat down and didn't say anything at first. I later told Andy I thought we should call it, "the dreadful silence."
We had no idea if this was a counseling technique or not. Andy and I just sat there and looked at our fingers. Finally he said, "Everything we say in this room is private unless you choose to tell someone. I will never reveal anything that goes on in here to anyone, including your parents. I told them they'd have to agree to those terms if I was going to work with you. So you have nothing to fear. What you say here will never leave this room unless either one of you says something to someone else. Do you understand?"
Andy and I both nodded.
He smiled. "Your parents told me you had an interesting summer. Is that true?"
"Let me start by saying that what you did this summer is not as important as why you did it. My goal is for us to discuss the thoughts and feelings you had before, during, and after the summer. Do you understand?"
We nodded again.
"How do you feel about having to come to counseling?"
"I don't want to be here," I said.
Andy followed with, "Same here."
"Why is that?"
I smiled and Dr. Walker gave me a strange look. "Why are you smiling?"
"Reminds me of court."
"Yeah, Andy and I had to testify against this guy Dillon Burke who raped me and seduced Andy and two other boys. The lawyers asked questions just like you."
"So you were raped? Do you think that had anything to do with what you did this summer?"
"I don't think so."
"Why do you think you did what you did this summer?"
I didn't say anything.
"Do you understand the question?"
"Yes, but I don't want to answer."
Damn, fortunately, I wasn't under oath. I could lie or say anything I wanted. But Andy and I had talked, and we wanted our old lives back, if that was at all possible, and agreed to be honest no matter how hard it was.
"Let me repeat the question. Why do you think you did what you did this summer?"
"Sex and money."
"How 'bout you, Andy?"
"Did you need the money?"
I paused to think about it. "Not really."
"But you said it was about sex and money. Can you explain that further?"
Andy spoke. "I think it was about sex at first. Matt and I and a couple of others guys our age had sex with each other, which was cool. But Matt and I thought it would be hot to have sex with older guys."
"So you're saying it wasn't about money?"
I cleared my throat and leaned in on my elbows. "It was both, at least for me."
He turned to Andy. "Did you need the money?"
"No, but it was nice to have."
"Were you able to spend it?"
Andy and I shook our heads.
"So was it the money or something else, like maybe what the money represented?"
He was damn good. I really hadn't thought of that. I had $9200 and couldn't spend it; I couldn't let anyone know I had it. What good was it?
"Andy, how did the money make you feel?"
"Uh. I'm not sure exactly. My first reaction is to say it made me feel powerful."
"Why do you think it made you feel powerful?"
Andy started rolling back and forth in his wheelchair. "I don't really know. That's just the way it made me feel. I couldn't do anything with it, but you know what, I counted it every night before I went to bed and when I got up in the morning. I remember thinking if I kept working, I'd have a chance to make more and the stack would get bigger and bigger."
Dr. Walker stayed focused. "But you said earlier it was the sex. Now you make it sound like maybe it was about the money. What do you think? Was it about the money or the sex?"
Andy paused to think. "I think it started out being about the sex. Matt and I once watched a movie called Kids. I only remembered the movie because this kid was having a lot of sex. Matt remembered this one quote which I've never forgotten. I think it says a lot about what Matt and I did this summer. Here's the quote: 'When you're young, not much matters when you find something you love. That's just it, fucking is what I love. Take that away from me, and I really got nothing.'"
"So you're saying that without sex, you have nothing?"
I just sat there while Andy got the third degree, but the entire time I knew he'd soon turn to me with the same questions, so my mind was searching for answers.
Andy stopped his wheelchair. "I used to think that. But after this summer, I'm not sure I believe it anymore. I can't speak for Matt, but the sex lost something when we were doing it all the time and getting paid for it. In the end, I think it really was about the money."
Dr. Walker rubbed his chin. "Why do you think that is?"
"I'm not sure. My best guess is that the money did for me what the sex used to. Sex used to make me feel powerful and whole."
"Why was that?"
Dr. Walker could have been a lawyer.
"Good question," Andy replied. "Let me think. I used to have sex with people I cared about and they cared about me. That made a difference. And I have to tell you this Doc, Matt gave his virginity to me the night I found out that Dillon Burke didn't love me. I was ready to kill myself. That's the kind of guy he is. Then sex just took over both our lives."
"What do you mean, took over both your lives?"
"He and I had sex every day for a whole week, sometimes more than twice a day."
"So you're saying that what Matt did meant a lot to you?"
Andy rolled his chair closer to Dr. Walker. "Yes. I felt loved, really loved. Matt didn't have sex with me for himself, but for me. It gave sex new meaning for me."
Dr. Walker leaned in toward Andy. "Did you have the same feelings with Dillon Burke?"
I smiled and hoped Dr. Walker didn't notice.
"I thought I did, but there was always something that sat in the back of my mind that didn't seem right. It felt like his love was conditional and that he wasn't giving me all his love. I couldn't explain it at the time. But when Matt gave himself to me, I felt the most overpowering love I'd ever felt, and I guess I thought it was just about sex, but now that we're talking, I know it was more than that."
Dr. Walker then switched gears. "This brings us back to the money. What do you think the money represented? You said the sex no longer meant as much, but now you had this money. You and Matt both had money that you couldn't spend. If I understand correctly, Matt decided to quit the business and you stayed on. From what you said so far, it sounds like it was about making more money. What do you think?"
"You're right, Doc. By then the sex with older guys was more like work than fun. It was about the money. During that time Matt and I never had sex with each other because we didn't make time or were too tired or the idea of sex made us think of work. And you know what, the most wonderful thing happened a week or so ago. Matt came over, got naked, and we laid together. It was the most content I'd felt in a long time. And while there was a little sex, very little, I realize as we're talking that maybe in some way the money represented love or something. I don't know. But that afternoon, lying next to Matt, our warm bodies touching, I felt whole again, even with my broken arm and leg. At that moment the money meant nothing. I can't say the same about the sex, but laying together that afternoon was better than the sex. Money can't buy that. Do you understand what I'm saying?"
He grinned. "I ask the questions here. Just joking. I get what you're saying. I'm impressed with your ability to talk about these things."
"Me too. But Matt and I talk a lot. He's always going on about how we tie knots in our lives. We've tied quite a few, and I've reflected on that idea a lot and maybe that helps."
Suddenly I wanted to cry. Andy's words touched me and in some ways made everything clearer. I felt better prepared to answer Dr. Walker's questions when he was ready to put me back on the stand.
The unexamined life is not worth living. - Socrates
You should examine yourself daily. If you find faults, you should correct them. When you find none, you should try even harder. - Unknown
I…think all of the great stories in literature deal with loneliness. Sometimes it's by way of heartbreak, sometimes it's by way of injustice, sometimes it's by way of fate. There's an infinite number of ways to examine it. - Tom Hanks
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