Just Hit 'Send' - The Interim Years

by Grasshopper

Ch. 9

Griff glanced over at Jordan. "You hungry? Wanna stop?" They'd been on the road since 11:30 last night and he needed to pee and stretch his legs. Jacksonville just behind them, five hours left to go, Griff had picked up I10 headed for the Baldwin exit. "No rest areas once we get on 301."

"Yeah, okay," Jordan answered. "I'm not hungry but let's stop."

When Griff saw the exit for Baldwin, he pulled off into the parking lot of the Wendy's. "God, I'm getting' old," he moaned as he half fell out from behind the steering wheel. Stretching and working his sore muscles, he waited for Jordan to follow.

Chili and Frosties settled on the table in front of them, Griff searched Jordan's face not finding what he was looking for. "Jord? Ya gonna make it?"

"Why does he do this? Why can't he leave it alone?" Jordan burst out and then glanced around hoping no one heard.

"Jord, you know him. You've always known how he was raised, how he feels, what he believes."

"But it's........it's so wrong. Not just because it's me but because it's just...... wrong. I haven't changed. I'm still me."

Griff watched the play of emotion flash across his best friend's face. "You know what though, Jord? You have changed. You're better than you were; stronger somehow. You have to face him and his beliefs, not just for you, but for Dan. It makes you stronger. Dan does that."

Jordan ...sighed. "It's not even all about Danny, you know. It's about Adam too."...

"I know. It's been like this nasty secret but a time comes when your parents become mortal, fallible. Your father was wrong...is wrong. And you can't let his beliefs dictate how you live......how you love Dan...how you raise JD."

"Easy to say, Griff; tough to do."

"I know but this time you've got a guy who loves you waiting and it's up to you to bring him home."

Griff finished up his chili and then ate Jordan's too. A few sips of the Frosty was all he could get into Jordan. "Get us some coffee. I'll go crank up the truck." Outside, he inhaled the fresh cold air and flexed his back and shoulder muscles. Flicking open the cell phone, he murmured:

"Just south of Jacks."
"He's a mess."
"Yeah, I think he'll be able to do it."
"Of course I will."
"Dan okay?"
"Fitting the brace? Cool."
"Here comes Jord. Next stop the farm."

Jordan ...balanced the two cups of steaming coffee and sunk them into the carryons. Seatbelts snapped, they pulled out and headed for Baldwin and south on 301 to Ocala....

Griff could feel the tension shooting off Jordan, filling the cab with unanswered questions and fear. He saw Jordan reach for his coffee, flip the tab and swallow a gulp.

"Fuck, I burned my tongue.," he spit the words out. "Shit! Fuck! Fuck him! Fuck this whole thing! I have a fucking headache! Oh God, this day is just gonna fucking suck!!!"

'Ooooooookay,' Griff sighed. 'Jordan in full pain mode.' "Hey, Jord."


"Tell me again about Markie and JD and where everyone fits in this puzzle you call your family."

Griff watched out of the corner of his eye as Jordan began to relax. He looked sheepishly over at Griff, "Sorry."

"You've just got stuff to be really thankful for that have nothing to do with him, you know."

"I know." Jordan looked out the window for a few quiet minutes, took a sip of coffee and started to tell Griff about the house he and Danny would have one day on the water. How Markie and JD would live there too and how for once, his life would be good. He talked, his voice quieting until Griff saw his head begin to nod.

"Get some sleep, Jord."

"I'll just rest my eyes," he said sleepily, all the anger exhausting him.

Markie hit #2 on her cell. "Does he know where Jordan is?"

Easy answered, "Nah, the lil dude is so happy just hearing The Man's voice last night that he has been exercising his butt off today."

"I hope it goes well."

"You've met him," was all Easy would say.

Markie's thoughts went back to that awful visit when Mr. Lawrence had looked at her like she was a whore and hadn't even touched Josh. This must be terrible for Jordan. She was just glad Griff was there for him. Griff..... Markie smiled slightly. Griff was a piece of work!

"Dan, we're gonna fit the brace today," Steph said, a huge smile on her face. "Your right leg is the one that needs total support. It's gonna be painful at first but you need it to stand up."

Danny took a deep breath. "Will I be able to stand up straight?"

"With the brace and your canes, not at first but if you can learn to balance with the brace and a cane in your left hand, you may make it."

"Take me to the torture chamber," he smiled, knowing that tonight he would have to call Jordy, tell him the news.

Jordan ...was in that lalaworld between sleep and wake where you feel like someone is holding you and you don't want to wake up. His eyes fluttered open and he saw the interstate flashing by. 'Damn!' he thought. "Where are we?"...

"Between Tampa and the Moccasin Wallow turnoff."

Jordan ...sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. "I'm worried about Mama, Griff."...

"Yeah, I know but she's gotta make her own decisions. You can only help yourself through this one. She loves you; always has. She loves your dad too. We'll just have to see how this plays." He turned on the radio and found their favorite country channel. "Like old times, Jord."

"Yeah.......ever wish we were kids again?"

"All the time, but this time is good too. I guess the hardest part is shuffling through the mess and salvaging what will make you happy. Jord?"


"You know there's gonna be choices to make, right?"

Jordan ...sighed. "Yeah."...

"Make the right ones."

The town looked pretty much the same; smaller somehow. The high school still looked like a prison, the Subway parking lot cluttered with kids and cars. The highway leading home had been repaved and his daddy had replaced the front gate. Driving down the driveway, hopping out to open the cattlegates, Jordan could feel the little boy seeping back into him. Griff glanced at him.

"Jord. As much as it sounds stupid for me to say, you're a man now, not a little boy. It's your life. Do what you gotta do."

Jordan ...felt tears prick the backs of his eyelids. God, he hated those damn tears that jumped at him. "I will."...

They pulled up into the front yard and Griff turned off the engine, the silence sounding loudly in their ears. "God, I love this place," Jordan sighed, knowing in his heart that he might never see it again.

"Jordan!" He looked up to see his Mama running down the front steps. He stepped into her arms and shut his eyes, letting the feeling ease his heart.

"Mama," he whispered.

"Are you okay? Why are you here?" she asked quickly, holding on tight, nodding her head at Griff and smiling.

"Can't I come home if I just want to?" he smiled.

"Of course, but it's the middle of the week and..............what's wrong?"

He could never hide much from his Mama. "Is Markie okay? Josh? Danny?"

"They're all fine. Well, Markie and Josh anyway. Danny's still out in Portland. He's had to have lots of therapy, Mama."

Claire looked in her baby's eyes. "Jordan? What's wrong with Danny?"

"That's what I'm here to find out."

Claire's face wrinkled with questions but she knew she had to wait til he told her. "Come inside. Are you hungry? I bet you need some Dr. Pepper after that long ride."

Her mind was racing. Why was Griff with Jordan? What did he mean about Danny? She knew she didn't have any answers so Jordan must be here to....... Oh, Lord........David.

"Your Daddy will be home soon. He'll be so happy to see you......both of you."

Jordan ...looked at his Mama, felt the sting of the tears and turned. "I'm gonna go see Tinker. I'll be right back." He walked out the kitchen door and headed toward the barn, whistling. A cannonball of gold fur came barreling down the path....

"J........how's my boy? How ya been, punkin?" He sat down in the middle of the path and let his dog kiss him until not much skin was gonna be left on his face. "Haha! Get off me, J. You're worse than Danny." His eyes dimmed and he was back. Back to knowing today was the end of some of his dreams. "C'mon, J. Let's go see Tinker."


Griff sighed. "It's not mine to tell, Mrs. L. Jord's got some unfinished business with his dad."

Claire knew she'd have to wait. "Here, let me get you some pie and Dr. Pepper and we'll sit out on the porch. David will be home soon."

Jordan ...heard the big truck pull into the front yard. It was funny how he remembered like it was yesterday waiting so impatiently for that sound; he and Adam. Waiting till Daddy got home. It was like the fun didn't even start till Daddy went with them to the swamp, the barn, the grove. He sighed remembering how he had come to dread that sound after Adam died, knowing that his Daddy wouldn't play with just him, that it had been Adam he wanted; Adam he loved. How much it had hurt when his Daddy didn't even come looking for him. How many times he had cried laying in the hayloft in the barn wishing his Daddy would call his name....

Sighing, he jumped off the corral rail and scratched J on the head. "You wanna come home with me, Jerimiah? I wish you could but an apartment's not the place for a country dog." His steps slow, his heart heavy, Jordan walked the path, looking back once at Tinker's soft brown eyes. God, this didn't have to happen.



"What brings you home in the middle of the week?"

"I wanted to see you and Mama."

"Just you and Griff?"


"Where are the..........others?"

"The 'others' are at home. Markie is at work. JD is at KiddieCare. Danny is in Portland. Are those the 'others' you're asking about?"

"No point in getting snippy, Jordan."


Griff took a deep breath. "I'm gonna run in town and kiss my Mama. I'll be back in awhile. Got your cell phone, Jord?"

Jordan ...knew what he meant. "Yes."...

They watched Griff drive away and Claire looked from her husband to her son. "I think I'll go start supper. You are staying, aren't you, Jordan?"

"All depends, Mama." He knew his Mama so well. She knew something was riding on whatever was going on between Jordan and his Daddy. She closed the screen door softly behind her and left them alone on the front porch.

Danny punched #1 but got Jordan's voicemail. Frowning, he punched in Markie's number knowing it was dinnertime on the East coast.


"Markie? It's me, Dan."

Markie groaned. "Hey, Danny."

"I was trying to call Jordy but he's shut off. Will you get him for me?"

"I can't right now. He's..........he's.........stop that, Joshua," she said, to give herself time.


God, she didn't want to lie to Danny. "He's gone out to get coffee." Well, he probably had gotten coffee somewhere. This was awful.

"Oh," Danny sounded disappointed. "I've got good news."

"What, sweetie?"

"I kinda wanna tell him first, okay Markie?"

"Sure thing. I'll tell him you called as soon as he gets back and he'll call you."

"Thanks, Markie. Love to Josh."

Markie punched #3 on her cell.

"Griffin. Dan just called Jordan."
"I told him he was out getting coffee."
"Tell him to call Dan. he sounded happy."
"Call me when you know anything,,,,,anything."
"Yeah, me too."

"Daddy?" Jordan sucked in fresh air. "What did you say to Dan?"

"Is that why you're here?"


David raked his hand through his hair, the same gesture Jordan always used. Like father, like son. "It was for your own good."

"I'll be the judge of that. What did you say?"

David sighed. "Just the truth. That you had a chance of living a normal whole life even if it is with that woman and her child. That if he really lov........if he really cared about you, he'd leave you alone. That you didn't need to be saddled with a handicapped fa........person."

Jordan ...stood up, the rocker falling backwards into the wall. "How could you? What gave you the right to say those things? You know I love him. You KNOW it." His hands on his hips, he confronted his father....

"I know you think you do."

"Think it!!! THINK IT!! I have loved him for nine years. I will love him till the day I die. How much proof do you need? What do I have to do to make you understand? Dan is my life. I don't want to be with anyone else.....ever!"

"Listen to me, young man................."

"NO! You listen to me........for once, please hear me! I've lived with this for years and years ever since Adam died. I've tried to be what you wanted. I did everything I could to make you keep loving me."

"What does Adam have to do with you and that.....that...........?"

Jordan ...felt the tears. Nooooo !! Not now! "Adam has everything to do with you, with me.......with us. Listen to me !!!!!" Jordan felt the sobs working their way into his voice. He tried to choke them back....

"When he was sick, when I needed someone to explain, to help me, you just went away.........crawled into that black hole and never looked at me. I knew you were crushed. Adam was gone..............but Daddy..........I was still here. I still loved you."

"You had your mother."

"God!!" Jordan cried, "Listen to you. I had Mama. I always had Mama. But where the fuck were you? When I needed you, where in the fucking hell were you?"

"Are you blaming me now for you being a homosexual?"


"Jordan...............watch your language in my house."

"I'm not in YOUR house. I'm on the front porch. I may never be in YOUR house again. I tried so hard to be what you wanted. No matter what I did; no matter how many people I helped or how many good grades I made, you never saw me. I was my Mama's child. We waited and waited for Adam to come home, didn't we, Daddy? But he never did. He won't come home. I'm all you have and you don't have much of me."

David stood up and they faced each other, no longer a boy and his dad but two men on opposite sides of a fence. "You let him fall."

The words echoed in the quiet air.

"What? Oh God, Daddy."

"I told you to watch him. Why didn't you watch him?"

"Oh God.............I was, Daddy. I promise I was."

Claire had had enough. "Jordan, of course you were. No one blames you. NO ONE !! David, why are you hitting out at your son?"

"He started it," David said petulantly. "All I wanted was for Adam and Jordan to grow up and live good Christian lives. One of them is gone forever and the other............."

"The other is gay," Jordan finished. He realized for the first time in his life that his Daddy would never see; would never let go of Adam. All his hopes and dreams had become centered on one little boy that looked just like him.

'You're your mother's child,' his Daddy would always say. And it was true. Suddenly, Jordan was glad he was. He looked at his Mama through wet lashes and saw her love shining in her eyes.

"David, be careful what you say right now. You're in grave danger of losing something precious."

"I can't help the way I feel, Claire."

"But you see, yes you can. You go to church and you listen to the minister talk about forgiveness and yet you stand here and accuse your own son of letting his brother fall."

"I can try to forgive him for that."

"No! You misunderstand me, David. He might be able to forgive YOU!"


"You heard me. You are wrong here. This is what Griff and Danny were talking about when they said that Jordan had scars........scars that wouldn't heal. You have created those scars. You are the only one who can make them go away." She hugged her son tightly. "I love you, Jordan. I never blamed you for anything."

"I know, Mama."

"So, we just let him live in sin and do unspeakable things and let that boy be a burden to him all...............................,"

"THERE IT IS !!" Jordan growled. "There's what you said that made him leave me. God, I hate you right this minute." He walked over to the rail and flipped out his cell.

"Griff, come get me. I need to go home."

He stood looking out at the dusky twilight sky. Almost to himself, he whispered, "I've always loved this house, this place. I wanted so much to bring JD here and let him know what it was like growing up like I did; learning from his grandpa....but you aren't his grandpa. If he doesn't have a stamp on his forehead saying "Perfect Person", he's unacceptable to you. But, you know what?" He turned to look sadly at his Daddy, "You don't have that stamped on your forehead either. I used to think you did. It's a bitch growing up."

"I can't help what I believe," David said softly. He could feel himself losing his son.

"That's just the thing, you can. Do you know how hard it was living in this house knowing I was gay, knowing I was everything repulsive in the world to you, knowing that if you knew you would stop loving me? What will the church," Jordan slurred the word, "Tell you to do about me?"

"I will have to shun you if you keep on this path."

Jordan ...sucked in a shaky breath. "Shun? What a stupid fucking word. You'll just pretend like I don't exist? Because I love Dan, you'll pretend I was never born?"...

"Until you change. Until you see the clear path, yes."

"And the clear path is what you believe? That's my flashlight?"

"You were brought up to believe that what you're doing is wrong. I can't condone what you do and I have to live with myself."

"But see, Daddy, you don't have to condone anything I do. I'm not asking you to. I truly don't give a flying fuck whether you do or not. If I rot in hell, I rot in hell. But you hurt Dan and he means everything to me. He's fragile and he was already hurting. You twisted the knife. I'll never forgive you for that. I never want you near him again.....ever! Don't you ever say another hateful word to Dan. You're making me choose but there really is no choice, is there?"

Claire sat quietly down on the swing and rocked, her hands folded gently in her lap. "I will never look away from you, Jordan. You have my love always; you and Danny. I want to know my grandson. I want to know Markie."


"You have to live with yourself, David. Well, I do too. This is my child. I lost one. I won't lose the other. If you can't see what you're doing, that's your loss."

"Perhaps I should call Reverend Carrey?"

Claire sighed. "The only one you should be talking to right now is God and I'm afraid he has probably lost his patience with you."

The sound of Griff's truck and J's barking ripped a hole in the quiet of the night air. "Mama, I love you. This changes nothing."

"I know, baby. I'll be up to visit during Spring Break if that's okay. I need to get to know my grandson."



"This is the last time I'll speak to you, so listen please," Jordan didn't even bother to wipe away the tears. "Look deep inside your heart. Adam is in there. He would tell you that he loves me. That he loves Dan. He's already told me. I'm sorry you can't love me. I'm sorry this is so hard for you. You're right......I am my Mama's son. I want to hate you. I do hate what you believe. But I don't. I only feel this really horrible sadness. I will never let JD feel this."

"I love you, Jordan."

"The Jordan that I am or the Jordan that you thought I was?" He already knew the answer. "I feel sorry for you, Daddy. I have enough love for Dan and Mama and Markie and JD and Griff and anyone else I find along the way. I wish I could share it with you."

David cleared his throat. "The church.............."

"No, we've already been there......done that...........I'm just an ordinary country boy who happens to be queer. I didn't ask for it but I won't deny it. I found the one person who can make me truly happy and I am going to go bring him home soon. God loves me. You did teach me well. I believe what you believe about love and trust and kindness. It's the bigotry and cruelty I can't stomach. One last question......." He felt Griff's hand on his shoulder.

"What if Adam had been gay?"

The question hung in the air as Jordan and Griff walked toward the truck. Claire walked out and hugged them both. "Take my love with you, Jordan," she said softly. "You always have it."

"I hate to leave you right now, Mama, but I can't stay."

"I know. Go home. Go talk to Danny. I'm very glad you have him in your life."

"I love you, Mama."

He looked back one time at the two figures on the porch; his Mama's hand raised in a wave; his daddy standing mutely by the rail.

"You did good," Griff murmured. "Ready to go home?"

Jordan ...couldn't talk through the tears as Griff rubbed his shoulder. J ran alongside the truck up to the last gate on the highway. "Go home, boy." Jordan sobbed, as he scratched the floppy gold ears one last time. "I love you, J. Go on home." He stood quietly, leaning against the gate watching his dog trot on back to the house, turning his big brown eyes back towards his boy....

"Bye, Daddy," Jordan whispered. "I lied. I have enough love for you. I'll keep it in case you ever need it." He raised his hand one last time, slid into the truck and cried quietly for miles for something he'd always wanted and something he'd never have.



"Call Dan."

Jordan ...punched in #1. "Hey Baby."...

"Yeah, uh huh........coffee."

"No, just allergies. I'm fine."

"You got your brace? That's great."


"I love you so much."

"Tell you what? Sure.............It will have a big porch running all the way around the house where we can sit and watch the sun go down every night. We'll have a big swing where I can put my head in your lap and you can play with my hair. Fiddlesticks? Yeah..........he'll be right there, barking at the seagulls.........I love you so much. A chimney? Yeah, for cold nights and we can snuggle in front of the fire...................I love you........................,"

Griff smiled. Maybe now.............

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