Beyond The Rain

by Grasshopper

Ch 4

TinMan: "Help! Help!"

Scarecrow: "It's no use screaming at a time like this. Nobody will hear you. HELP!! HELP!!"

Aaron Sorensen

I hope I did the right thing. I couldn't keep it all inside me any longer. When Billy Carmedy said what he said in class, I felt something break inside me. My mom and dad have been acting like nothing ever happened. As far as they're concerned, I guess I'm fixed. I feel like a washing machine. I made an ugly screechy sound and they called the repairman. Now, they can just get on with their 'washing' and life will settle back to normal.

Lord only knows what is going on inside my parent's heads. When my mother looks at me, it's with this frightened glance, but she can't keep eye contact with me for 10 seconds. And my dad, he just doesn't look at me at all. I know that if I went to them and promised that I wasn't gay anymore, that I would be their son again, they would open their arms. It might take my dad longer than my mom, but they want it so much. They'd pretend like it had never happened.

I had always wanted brothers and sisters, and now more than ever. If there were more kids in my house, maybe the spotlight would go off me. Maybe I'd have a brother who did drugs or a sister who slutted around. Anything to let me hide. But, I'm an only child and so, my every move was under the microscope. I couldn't blame anything on anyone else. Everything was always my fault.

I have so much school work to make up, but I have lots of time since I had to drop off the baseball team and drop out of scouts. I had rules on top of rules. They had to know who I was with and where I was going every minute of the day. Not that I got to go anywhere. I went to school and came home.

My friends had all welcomed me back, but the way I looked now, my shaved head and my plain clothes and my silence, had made them back off. I wasn't the same boy I had been when I left. I just said that my time away had made me really tired and I wasn't gonna be going out for awhile. It was really lame, but, sadly, I found that no one really cared. I had been gone for a long time and my friends had kinda moved on without me. It was then that I realized that I didn't really have any close friends, friends I confided in. I didn't miss any of them, except for the fun times we used to have.

I hurt Sissy. She's a really sweet girl who had pushed and pushed to try to get close to me. All her friends had had sex and she wanted it too so she could be part of the talk. I'm ashamed that I had let her blow me and I felt her up just so no one would question me. All that was over now. I had broken up with her, claiming that I'd thought about her a lot when I'd been gone and realized she needed more than I could offer her. She tried to argue me out of it but I was firm. I didn't need a girlfriend.

My father was angry when he asked how Sissy was and I told him it was over. He wanted things back to normal. Normal was Aaron and a girl. Normal was his son trying to get in a girl's panties. He closed his eyes to his son wanting to get in another boy's pants. He would never be able to accept that thought. It was amazing to me that my father used God and religion as his reasoning for what he had done, but he could still want me to fuck a girl rather than be what I really am. His priorities were totally out of whack.

I thought about what I had done this afternoon, telling Billy Carmedy the little that I had. I felt better inside for just saying out loud that I hadn't been at my uncle's ranch. I hated all the lying and now someone knew a little bit of the truth.

Billy and I had never been friends and now I wondered why that was. He was so easy to talk to, so easy to be around. I realized something today.... after I had asked for his help; after I had helped him load the feed bags; after he had promised to keep my secrets and I told him about my uncle .... after all that, I looked at him, really looked at him and wanted to tell him all of it. I was so scared he'd laugh or back away or worse, what if he was repulsed and told everyone? I've been so confused after that night, all those weeks ago, when I had still trusted my parents. It had all seemed easier then. Now, I had to make my own decisions, deal with my own choices.

So, when Billy said that about differences in class, that even if he was an outcast, he'd stand by his beliefs, I'd looked at him differently. Maybe, there are people who might listen to me. Maybe, I could talk to someone. Maybe, even Billy.

I know he wondered why my parents had sent me to that place. I hadn't been able to tell him. I was ashamed. Ashamed of myself, ashamed of my parents. I had opened the door, but I didn't know if I was going to be able to walk through it. What good would it do to tell Billy Carmedy I'm gay? There was just too much that could go wrong.

My mom called me to dinner. She sat a one end of the table, my dad at the other. I sat in my usual spot on the side. Mom set the bowl of green beans on the table and reached her hand out to me for prayer. Before, we had always made a circle of our hands, thanking God for our food. I took my mother's hand and looked toward my father. He kept his hands folded above his plate. He hadn't touched me since the night before I told them. My father couldn't even touch me anymore.

He bowed his head and prayed thanks for the food on the table, the health of his family and friends and the continued strength of the weak and confused. This was the only indication that he even remembered what had happened. I ate my dinner and excused myself to work on my homework.

My room had been cleared of my computer, my music, posters of sports stars and books. It was no longer a refuge, but just another white space where I was alone. I sat at my desk, staring out the window wondering if my boy was out there thinking about me. I had to believe he was out there. My calendar hanging on the wall beside my desk already had nine red X's as I marked off the days until I was free.

I finished my homework and flopped down on my bed. Staring at the ceiling, I thought about Sissy and how that had been so wrong; about Mr. Edgars and the cold look in his eyes when he tore me down; and then my thoughts turned to Billy Carmedy. Even though I knew it was wrong; even though I had tried to turn my feelings off, I had noticed him today.

I finally let myself think about how he looked. I pictured his long legs as he walked back and forth from the truck to the barn ... the way his jeans clung to his butt. I thought about his laugh and his even white teeth with a small dimple flashing in the corner of his mouth. I didn't want to think these thoughts about Billy. This was how I got in trouble in the first place. I needed a friend right now, not a night dream. I wouldn't jerk off thinking anything about Billy. It wasn't right. It just wasn't.............I closed my eyes and slipped my hand into my boxers. I wouldn't think about how his brown eyes had watched me with kindness and caring. I wouldn't remember how his chest had glistened with sweat as he lifted the sacks of feed. I wouldn't. It was wrong. I kept whispering how wrong it was as my hand moved up and down, as my body tightened.


I sat silently through my classes the next day. My old friends still spoke to me but since I didn't go out at night, they had pretty much chalked me up as a lost cause. Looking at the kids at school from the other side of the fence now, I realized that there were so many other kids who sat alone that no one even knew. They reminded me of the kids at the retreat. The ones I wasn't allowed to talk to as I passed them in the halls and sat next to as we ate. One of the things that drove me crazy there was the silence. There must have been 17 other kids there with me, but I never knew their names or talked to them at all. I wanted so badly to know why they were there. Were they like me or had they done some other horrible unmentionable sin?

As I sat in the cafeteria and looked at the other kids, I wondered what secrets they had and if they were as confused as I was? I choked back a laugh thinking we should all get together and form a club. The Misfits. The ones no one wants. The Throwaways.

As it got closer to time for Psych class, I felt myself anticipating and dreading at the same time. What if he had thought about it and decided I was a freak? What if he wouldn't look at me, embarrassed to know me? I found that I wanted his friendship. I needed it. I couldn't tell him my secret. I didn't want him to turn away from me like all the others, all the people I have believed would never turn away.

I wanted to see Billy, see if he accepted me. I wanted to run away and hide for fear that he hadn't. I walked in the door of Mr. Cantor's classroom, my eyes down, to plop down in my desk by the door. I automatically looked at the clock. I sat for a couple of minutes and then couldn't stand it. Hell, all he could do was look away. I was getting used to people closing down around me. What was one more?

I turned my head and looked out the window, slowly shifting my eyes back to where I knew Billy sat. He was staring right at me and when my eyes met his, he grinned. I saw a flash of those white teeth and that little dimple. He made a head's up motion with his head and I smiled. Turning back to face Mr. Cantor, I felt myself ease off. I had a friend. I promised myself right that minute that I wouldn't do what I did last night again. I wouldn't use Billy for my night time fantasy. It wasn't fair to him. He was trying to be my friend and I wouldn't betray his trust. He was offering me his hand and that's all of him that I would concentrate on.

After class, I waited just outside the door. Billy came barreling out, bumping right into me. Laughing, I steadied him as he straightened his books.

"Wanna come help me at the store?" he asked.

"Man, you're getting free manual labor out of this deal," I laughed. "Don't you ever quit working?"

His eyes darkened for a second and I realized that I'd hit a sore spot.

"Not really. I work most all the time." He saw that I was uncomfortable and added, "But I'd sure like the company."

I wasn't sure how I was gonna explain to my parents where I was after school. Yesterday, Mom had been out when I got home from helping Billy, so it hadn't come up yet. I had to figure out a way to be able to see Billy. It wasn't fair that I couldn't even have a friend.

This time, I rode with Billy in his beat up old truck. The seat covers were patched with duct tape and the fabric that covered the ceiling was gone, but he was happy and that's was all that mattered.

I was helping set up a display of cow feeders, when Mr. Strickland walked over to check on us.

"You back again, Aaron?" he smiled.

"Yeah," I said shyly, hoping he wasn't gonna tell me to get lost. I didn't know when else I could talk to Billy.

"If you keep helping Billy, I'm gonna have to start paying you half of his salary," the man said.

Billy frowned. I could tell that didn't set well with him, even if it was a joke.

Mr. Strickland saw the frown and clapped his hand on Billy's shoulder, "I was just kidding, Billy. I wouldn't do that. You're the best worker I have. I guess I'll just have to offer Aaron here a part-time job after school too, so you two can keep my store in good order."

My eyes widened with shock. It had been a long time since someone had done a kind thing for me.

"Do you need another helper?" I asked.

"I wouldn't say it if I didn't mean it," Mr. Strickland said. "I know Billy could use the help. He stays late too many afternoons. If it's okay with your parents, it's fine by me."

My parents! Would they let me work here after school? Why not? It's not like cows are gay. It's not like I can practice my nasty perversions on sacks of feed.

"Wow! Thank you, Mr. Strickland," I grinned. I turned to make sure it was okay with Billy and found a huge grin on his face too. He was happy that I was gonna work here. I wanted to dance around and hug people. Oh wait, I can't hug people. I wasn't gonna let what I was ruin how happy this was making me. I would get to spend two or three hours every afternoon with my new friend. I'd make my parents say 'Yes'. They had to. They'd taken away everything else, I wouldn't let them take this.

Mr. Strickland walked off and Billy whacked me on the back. "Way to go. You've got yourself a job."

"It's okay with you?" I asked shyly.

"More than okay. We've got plenty of time to talk now."

We finished the display and unloaded twenty cartons of cat food for the shelves. The feed store wasn't air conditioned, and the work made me sweat. Billy had tied a blue bandana around his neck when we got there and now I knew why. He pulled it off, wiped his forehead and handed it to me. I did the same and offered it back.

"Nah, you keep it. I've got more."

I rolled it and tied it around my neck like Billy had done. That bandana meant more to me than all the money in the world.

We talked the whole time we were working. We had lots in common and, as long as I kept the topics general, like music and sports, it was easy. It was when we stopped for a soda break that it got sticky.

"You gonna tell your parents tonight?"

I had been tryin to think about what to tell them. I was so scared my dad would say 'No'. It was like he thought that anything that made me happy made me gay. "I have to. I hope they let me."

Billy gave me a sad look. "They won't send you away again, will they?"

"Not as long as I mind them," I sighed.

Billy didn't say anything for a couple of minutes and then he said gently, "I don't know what you did to get in this fix, but nothing's this bad. Besides, a job is a good thing. How can they not like the idea?"

I didn't know what to say. How could I tell someone as kind and caring as Billy that my parents didn't think I had the right to be happy until I came around to their way of thinking. Until I made myself into the son they wanted, not who I was.

"Want me to go with you to tell them what a good boss Mr. Strickland is and how...................," Billy started.

"NO!," I snapped. My God, I could just see my dad's face if Billy walked in the door with me. He's a really cute guy and I know the first thing my dad would think. Looking at Billy's face, I saw the confusion my 'No' had caused. "I mean, I think it would be better if I asked by myself, okay?"

"Sure," he said, his face set in a frown, not at me, but confused all the same.

I knew I couldn't keep this up with Billy. He was brave and honest and had said right there in class that, if he was different, he would still hold his head up. I couldn't keep my secret from a boy like Billy. I wish he was gay like me. Wait, no I don't. That would just be hard right now. For the first time in my life, I hoped that the boy I was starting to care about in all the ways Mr. Edgars and the retreat had taught me were wrong, was very very straight.


That night, Billy's bandana scrunched in my fist, I said casually, "Dad, I have an after school job. Mr. Strickland, down at the feed store wants me to work from 3:30 to 6:00. It's a good job. I'll work hard and make some money."

"You are behind in your studies."

"I'll work extra hard after dinner to keep catching up. I'm getting all my old assignments turned in. My grades are up to C's now. I promise they'll be better than that by report card time."

"I don't know. You'll come in contact with too many people there," he said, thinking God only knew what...that I'd flirt with the cowboys.

It was my mom that helped. "I think this will be a good thing. I know Mrs. Strickland. We are in the Women's Society together. Lovely people, the Stricklands. Let the boy try it for a week."

"I'll go down and speak to Jim Strickland tomorrow," my dad said. I cringed.

"You won't tell know...," I mumbled.

"He already knows," he replied. "All the church deacons and elders are aware of your struggle."

Oh God! Mr. Strickland knew. Was there nowhere to hide from this? Why had he offered me the job? Was he gonna glare at me like my parents and the elders? I'd rather just come straight home. Then I remembered how nice he'd been and he hadn't said anything about my problem. He'd just said that if it was okay with my parents, it was fine with him. Maybe he didn't hate me.

But, if he knew about me, why would he let me work with Billy? I realized that I had to tell Billy because if Mr. Strickland knew, then he'd be watching me. I didn't want Billy to find out that way, someone else telling him that I was a queer. I knew I had to tell in my own way, and maybe he'd still be my friend.

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