by Nick Brady
The Tulsa Boys Home was nicely decorated for Christmas. While it was not specifically a Christian facility it did encourage religious expression and Christmas was an important holiday. The majority of the boys were culturally Christian even if they had never attended church services in their previous lives. Over the years a few boys from a Jewish background had passed through the home and when that was the case Hanukkah was acknowledged. But it seemed that all boys responded to Santa, for the promise of gifts if for no other reason.
There was a nicely decorated Christmas tree in the dining room and a big wreath on the door of each dormitory. A Christmas service was planned for Christmas Eve with lots of music and singing of carols. Each boy looked forward to receiving a nice present of some sort and they were allowed to exchange small gifts with each other. It was the Saturday before Christmas and Tony and Bobby were eating their supper in the dining room.
"Christmas is a big deal here," Tony told Bobby.
"Christmas is a big deal almost everywhere," Bobby replied. "When I was little we always had a tree and stuff at home. Didn't you?"
Tony shook his head. "No man, we never did nothing. Maybe when I was in Mexico we did some stuff but not here. This is kind of nice."
"When my real father was around it was very nice. I got presents and everything," Bobby recalled.
"Do you remember your father much?" Tony wondered.
"Yeah, I was eight when he died and I remember lots of stuff from before then. He was nice and took me and my brother places and did stuff with us," Bobby smiled a little. "He got me a BMX bike for Christmas before he went to Vietnam."
"What happened after that?"
Bobby looked sad."He never came home. Mom was real sad and started drinking a lot. The next Christmas really sucked. Then she got a boyfriend, a couple of them actually, and the last one was really bad. I didn't like him at all."
"You said he was mean to you?"
Bobby nodded his head. "He was nasty. He liked to get all drunked up and then he wanted to give me my bath."
"He gave you a bath? That don't sound so bad," Tony considered.
Bobby got quiet. "I don't like to talk about it. Not here anyway."
Tony looked around the dining hall. "You finished with supper? Lets go out."
They bussed their trays then put on their coats and walked out into the grassy area between the buildings where they played soccer when it was warmer. They started to walk around the perimeter of the quadrangle.
"You want to tell me about your mom's boyfriend? You don't have to tell me nothing but you can trust me," Tony said. "I won't tell nobody."
"I know," Bobby said and took Tony's hand for a few steps, then looked around and let go. "He was just kind of nasty. He took a washrag and rubbed me all over, especially my wiener, and tried to make me hard. I couldn't help it but I did. Then he would rub me all over with his hands."
"Yeah?" Tony was listening.
Bobby sighed. "One time he was real drunk. I could smell him. He stunk like whiskey. He rubbed me all over and kept asking me if I liked it."
"What did you say?"
"I didn't say anything. I just wanted him to stop."
Bobby was looking down as he walked. "Then he got naked and got in the bathtub with me and wanted me to wash his thing. It was all big and hairy."
"Did you do it?"
"I didn't want to. It made me feel scared," Bobby sighed. "So he took my hands and put them on his big thing, it was all hard and nasty. I told him to stop but he was laughing at me and he wouldn't stop."
"So what you do?" Tony asked.
Bobby's face took on a hard look. "I grabbed his balls and squeezed as hard as I could. He yelled and slapped the shit out of me, so I jumped out of the tub and ran to my mother."
"Jeez, what did he do?"
"He chased me into the living room. Both of us were wet and naked. I guess I was crying. John was yelling at me all mad and everything. He told Mom I had grabbed him by his balls when he was trying to give me a bath."
"Man! "What did your mama do?" Tony asked.
Bobby's sadness began to turn to anger. "She didn't even ask me what happened, she just started to spank me. She was spanking my ass and John was slapping at my head. They were both cussing at me and telling me I was bad and worthless. They beat me up really bad. I was wet and naked, scared and mad. I guess I went kind of nuts. I was kicking and trying to fight back but I couldn't do anything," he paused. "They hurt me Tony."
Tony hardly knew what to say. He put his hand on Bobby's shoulder and asked him. "What made them stop?"
"I don't know. I really don't remember. I woke up and I was still naked and on the sofa. They were gone and I was glad."
"Damn, Bobby. What'd you do then?"
"I put on some clothes and ran away. I went to a park and hid in some trees. I fell asleep and when I woke up it was dark, so I stayed there all night," his voice took on a flat quality.
Tony squeezed his shoulder. "Go on Bobby."
"In the morning I was real hungry and sore from where they hit me. My arm hurt bad and I couldn't move it much, and my side hurt real bad when I tried to take a deep breath. I didn't want to go home so I sat at a picnic table and put my head down. After a little while a policeman came over to check on me and I guess I looked pretty bad. I had blood on my face and in my hair," he stopped talking and when he looked up at me his face was covered with tears.
Tony couldn't help it. He stopped and gathered Bobby up in his arms and held him. "I'm sorry Bobby. I feel so bad for you man."
They had walked to the far corner of the yard and sat down under a big tree. The tree was mostly bare and the ground was covered with dry leaves. They leaned back with Tony's arm around his shoulder.
"So did the policeman take you home?" Tony asked.
"He took me to Saint John's Hospital and they looked after me for about a week. My arm and some ribs were broke and I was pretty bruised up. A bunch of social workers came and talked to me and I told them what happened. Well, not all of it, but I told them that I got beat up," Bobby had his arms wrapped around his knees and his chin was on his arm.
"But what about your mom and her boyfriend? Didn't they get in trouble?"
Bobby sighed. "No, of course not. They lied Tony. They lied about everything. They said I was a bad kid, that I was having a tantrum and fell down. They said they were trying to get me to hold still and I hurt myself. Nobody ever believes the kid."
He hung his head down and rocked back and forth. "They wanted me to go home but I wouldn't go. I told them I would just run away again. I guess that's why they sent me here."
"Hey, you told me you have a brother. Where was he? Didn't he take up for you?" Tony wanted to know.
Bobby gave a harsh laugh. "Oh no. John liked him. Maybe he lets John play with him, I don't know. All he cares about is going off with his friends and smoking dope. He doesn't give a shit about me. Nobody cares about me," Bobby stifled a sob. "Not even my mother loves me."
Tony pulled him close to his side. "No man, that's messed up. You are a nice boy. You are a really good person. I care about you," Tony stroked his auburn hair.
Bobby turned and wrapped his arms around Tony and sobbed onto his chest. Tony held him close and didn't care who was watching. He had never felt so good about anything before as he felt about the sweet boy in his arms. He wanted to protect him, to somehow make him happy.
After a few minutes Bobby relaxed and Tony thought maybe he had gone to sleep. Then Bobby straightened up and wiped his face with his coat sleeve.
"I'm sorry Tony. I didn't mean to blubber all over you. I shouldn't dump on you like that."
"No, and I shouldn't ask you so many questions either," Tony acknowledged. "I guess I just want to know your story, eh?"
Bobby nodded. "Maybe you could tell me your story some time, OK?"
"Yeah maybe. But not now. It's getting dark and cold. Let's go play some basketball, OK?"
"Yes!" Bobby brightened up. "Let's go." He grabbed Tony's hand and helped pull him up. "Beat you!" he called and started running for the gym.
Tony raced after Bobby and found that he was unable to catch him. He gained a little and was almost able to touch him when Bobby looked back, laughed and sped away again.
"Can't catch me!" he shouted between breaths.
By the time they had reached the building Tony had dropped back. At the door Bobby turned and laughed. "What's the matter, slowpoke?"
"Ah, I just let you win," Tony sputtered, trying to catch his breath.
Bobby didn't argue, he just laughed. "Let's go play basketball. I bet I can beat you at that too."
Jermaine was inside and he gave Tony a wink when he came in with Bobby. The bigger boys were playing pick up at one end, and some younger boys were watching.
Tony yelled at them. "Hey you guys, let's play at this end."
They chose up sides and enjoyed a raggedy game with nobody keeping score. They had more fun than the big guys. At 9:00 Jermaine ran them out and Tony walked Bobby back to their dorm.
"You are playing better," Tony told him.
"I'm too short to ever be much good at basketball, but it's fun anyway," Bobby said.
"Maybe, but you can sure run fast. You are faster than me," Tony admitted.
"So you didn't just let me win?" Bobby grinned.
"No man, you beat me fair and square."
Bobby was skipping along, obviously pleased with himself. "I'm sorry Tony. I'll try not to pick on you tomorrow," He grinned and pretended to feel bad for Tony.
"That's OK man. I'll get you next time," he gave Bobby a light tap on the shoulder.
When they got to their rooms Tony said. "Goodnight Bobby, I got to take a shower and go to bed."
"Wait while I get my towel. I want a shower too," Bobby scampered to his room and returned in a flash with a towel and clean underwear to wait for Tony.
Tony went in his room and did the same. Jermaine was there sorting out some clothing.
"Hey Tony," Jermaine greeted him. "I saw you out on the field talking to Bobby this evening."
"Yeah, we were talking about stuff."
"Bobby looked like he was upset. What was up with that?" Jermaine asked.
"He was kind of telling me his story. You know, stuff that happened before he come here. He had a real shitty deal man," Tony looked concerned.
"That's what I thought. He looked like he was leaning on you pretty hard."
"I didn't know what to say. Mostly I just listened to him. Maybe try to make him feel a little better, you know?" Tony said earnestly. "That Bobby he is a really nice kid, you know? I really like him."
Jermaine nodded his head. "He really likes you too. He has latched on to you like a long lost brother. Be careful with him. He could get hurt pretty easy."
"Not by me, man. He like a little brother for me. I mean it. Nobody gonna hurt him if I can help it," Tony looked very determined.
"That's cool Tony. I believe you. You take good care of him OK? He needs a friend," he gave Tony a nod, "We all need friends."
"Yeah for sure. Hey I got to go, Bobby is waiting for me to shower, OK?"
"OK, see you later," Jermaine waved him off.
Tony hurried across to the bathroom. He expected to see Bobby waiting in the hall for him but he wasn't there. He went into the bathroom and saw that Bobby was already in the shower with somebody.
Tony stopped long enough to take a piss then went back and got undressed. He saw that the other boy was a tall older kid. He recognized Jase, the boy he had played around with when he first came here. He watched for a minute before the bigger boy saw him.
He remembered that Jase had been rough with him and Tony didn't much like him. Jase was talking some trash to Bobby, saying some rude things that had Bobby looking nervous. Tony didn't like the looks of it and went to them quickly.
"What's up?" he said to Jase, stepping next to Bobby and giving Jase a hard look.
Jase gave Tony a dirty look and said. "I'm just talking to dinky dick here." Bobby moved behind Tony and looked away.
Tony instinctively squared himself away and faced the older boy. "His name is Bobby, and he is my friend."
"Yeah? Is he your little bed buddy? Ain't he a little small for you? But then you are kinda small yourself, ain't you," Jase laughed and shook his long dick at them both.
Tony felt the hair stand up on the back of his neck. "Hey man, you need to talk nice to my friend. He don't need none of your trash mouth."
Jase's face turned to a scowl. "You watch your mouth punk. I might whip both your asses just for the fun of it."
Tony didn't move. He clenched his fists and said. "Leave him alone man. I mean it," Bobby looked scared and retreated to the corner behind Tony.
Jase leaned forward, spit in Tony's face and gave him a shove that almost knocked him off his feet. Tony regained his balance quick as a cat and without a word brought his foot up and kicked Jase hard in his balls. Jase pitched forward in time for Tony to smash him on the temple with his elbow. Jase went down in a heap and flopped on the wet floor, cussing and puking.
Tony turned around to Bobby and asked him, nice as you please. "Hey Bobby. You finish with you shower? Let's go."
Bobby's face turned to one of amazement and he rushed out grabbing his towel and underwear.
"Take your time and put your clothes on, you don't want to run out in the hall naked. You want to remember, Jase slipped and fell down. Maybe we find somebody to come help him."
He took Bobby's hand and led them out of the bathroom, leaving Jase to rub his nuts and bawl.
Once out in the hall he took Bobby's towel and carefully dried off his hair and asked him. "Hey Bobby, did he hurt you? Did he touch you?"
Bobby was scared but in control of himself. "Not really." He said. "He tried to grab my wiener but I told him to stop and I jumped back. You came in right after that."
Tony told him. "I know that guy. He is a punk. He won't bother you no more I think. If he does, you tell me and I will hurt him real bad next time."
"You saved me Tony. You took up for me. Nobody else ever did that."
"Hey, that's OK. I told you I won't let nobody hurt you if I am around. I don't lie to you, OK?" Tony promised.
Bobby grabbed Tony around the waist and hugged him tight. "Thank you Tony. You're the best friend I ever had."
Tony held Bobby out to arms length. "Listen to me. You don't really know me so good, but if I promise you something I will keep it forever. A promise to a true friend is like a sacred thing. Bobby, I promise you I will be your true friend forever, and if I am with you, I won't let nobody hurt you. I promise you that, you understand?"
Bobby's eyes were full of tears and his head was nodding up and down. "Yes, I understand. Thank you Tony."
"Now you better go to bed before Jase comes out here. He gonna be pissed, OK?" Tony grinned. "We fixed his ass, right? Remember, he fell down, OK? Goodnight Bobby."
Bobby's head bobbed up and down very rapidly. "Jase is a clumsy dipshit and he fell down. I got it. Goodnight Tony."
They each went to their room, Jermaine, Danny and Justin were already getting ready for bed. Jermaine gave Tony a nod when he came in.
"You get your pup washed?" He asked pleasantly.
"Yeah, he's good. That clumsy Jase was in there and he slipped and fell on his butt," Tony laughed.
Jermaine shook his head. "He's kind of a dork."
"Yeah, he sure is," Tony smiled to himself and slid into bed.
It got quiet and Tony went to sleep. Sometime in the early morning he was awakened by noise out in the hall. Somebody was yelling and he heard people moving around. Danny got out of bed and went to investigate. When he opened the door the yelling got louder. Tony thought he recognized Bobby's voice.
In just a minute Danny came back in. "Hey Tony, you need to come in here."
Tony jumped out of bed and ran to Bobby's room. Bobby was standing on his top bunk screaming. "No, no, Stop it! NO!" then he screamed again.
By then Jermaine and Justin had come in to see what was going on. Bobby's room captain Peter and Danny were trying to calm him down but he kept screaming.
"No, no! Help me Tony!" Bobby screamed.
Tony ran to him and pulled him off the top bunk. "You are OK Bobby, I got you."
"He is having a nightmare," Peter said.
When Bobby realized that Tony had him he collapsed in his arms and began to sob. "Don't let them hurt me! Please help me!"
Tony sat down on the floor with him and held him tight. "You are OK, I won't let nobody hurt you Bobby!"
Bobby kept crying but began to relax. He hung on to Tony and pressed his face into his neck.
"I got you Bobby, Don't cry man, nobody is gonna hurt you," Tony whispered in his ear and rocked him back and forth. "You're OK now Bobby, you need to get back in your bed."
"No, don't leave me Tony," Bobby sniffed, refusing to let go.
Tony held him and continued to rock him in his arms. Tony had tears on his face too. "It's OK Bobby, I won't leave you."
Peter looked at Danny. "You think maybe Tony could sleep in here for tonight?"
Danny looked at Jermaine who nodded. "Yeah, maybe that would be OK," Danny said.
The crowd of boys was gathered around watching. "I think he's going to be OK now," Peter said. "The rest of you guys need to get back to bed."
Danny, Jermaine and Justin went back to their room and the other boys got into their beds and left Tony to hold Bobby until he fell asleep in his arms. Tony picked him up and put him into his bed, Bobby still holding his neck tightly.
"I got you Bobby," he said and lay down next to him and cradled him in his arms. Peter pulled the covers over them both and turned out the lights.
It finally got quiet with the only sound an occasional stifled sob from Bobby as he fell sound asleep. Tony held him close, rubbing his shoulders and making gentle shushing sounds. Tony knew that what he was doing was absolutely right. He had never before felt so much love for another person. He held the boy in his arms until they were both sound asleep.
Tony woke up the next morning on his side with a small boy behind him holding him around his chest. For a moment he didn't know where he was, then he remembered Bobby's bad dream.
He turned over toward Bobby and ruffled his hair. "Hey sleepyhead, wake up. It is time for breakfast little man."
Bobby opened his eyes to see Tony's face inches from his own. "Tony," he smiled.
"Wake up man. It's time to get up."
"I had a real bad dream," Bobby said.
"Yeah man, I know. You were making a lot of noise."
"You rescued me."
"You were yelling for me," Tony explained. "So I came to see about you. I told you I would."
"No, I mean in my dream. All these people were hitting me and grabbing at me, and you came to rescue me. But you couldn't reach me and I was calling for you. I was fighting them but they were too big."
"Yeah, You are a fighter. You never let nobody mess with you without a fight. You are brave, Bobby. You are a real tough guy."
Bobby smiled. "Really?"
"Yeah man, really. You are about the bravest guy I know," Tony smiled back at him. "Now get up, I got to go get dressed for breakfast."
They rolled out of bed and saw that the room was empty. The others had left them to sleep. Tony kissed Bobby on his forehead, and trotted down to his room. It was empty too. He looked at the wall clock and saw that it was almost time for breakfast to be over. He pulled on his clothes and went down to fetch Bobby.
Bobby was dressed. "Come on man, we gonna miss breakfast and I'm hungry."
They ran down to the dining room to find that the others were still eating. They went to the serving line and quickly took some bacon, scrambled eggs and toast. There were two empty chairs between Danny and Jermaine.
"We saved you a place," Danny said. "We thought you were going to sleep through breakfast."
"Hey, not me man. I'm always ready to eat," Tony grinned.
"How are you this morning?" Jermaine asked Bobby.
"Better, thank you," Bobby replied. "Sorry I woke everybody up. I guess I had a bad dream."
Danny shrugged. "Don't worry about it. It happens sometimes," he nodded at Bobby's room captain. "Peter was worried about you," Peter nodded back and gave them a thumbs up.
Breakfast was over and they got up to leave.
"Hey Tony," Bobby said.
"Hey Bobby. What?"
"It's Sunday morning. Would you like to go to church?"
"I don't know. I never been to church much. You want to go?" Tony asked.
"Yeah, kinda. We used to go a lot when my Daddy was home."
"I think the last time I was in a church was when my grandmama took me in Mexico."
"Where would we go?" Bobby asked.
"Danny goes. It is in the conference room in the Admin building at 11:00 I think," Tony told him. "I will go with you if you want to."
"I would," Bobby answered. "That's a couple of hours from now. Can we walk around and talk some more?"
"It is cold outside, we better get our coats," Tony suggested.
They went upstairs and got some warm clothes. Bobby had on an olive green stocking cap.
"I like your hat," Tony said.
"It's warm," Bobby told him. "It is an Army watch cap. It was my Daddy's. It's the only thing I have that was his. I like it."
"Sure you do. It is a cool cap."
They walked back down to the quadrangle and started to walk the perimeter.
"Can you tell me your story? You know, the stuff that happened to you before you came here?" Bobby wondered.
"I don't know man. It's not a good story. It's kind of embarrassing," Tony admitted.
Bobby was quiet for a few steps. "You don't have to tell me. I just wondered. My story is not very good either."
"If I tell you I think maybe you don't like me any more," Tony hesitated.
"So I'm supposed to trust you but you don't trust me?"
"It's different Bobby. I done some real bad things."
"I was honest with you," Bobby reminded him.
"OK Bobby, I tell you everything. But don't hate me man. You the best friend I ever had. I don't want you to hate me."
"Come on Tony. I can't hate you. You are my best friend ever."
They walked a little farther then Tony began his story.
"When I was a little boy in Mexico I live with my mama and my grandmama. I don't remember my father much. I had 3 brothers older than me. We all two years apart. Then when I was eight my father came back to us. I never like him much. He was like your mama's boyfriend, he was drunk all the time. He hit my mama and make lots of trouble for us."
When I was little I don't know, but he like to do bad things with my brothers. He make them do sex things with him. Then when I was a little older he do that stuff with me too."
"What kind of stuff," Bobby asked.
"Bad stuff, I don't know how to say it in a nice way," Tony hesitated.
"Just tell me Tony. It is the same no matter how you say it."
Tony struggled for words. "He fucked us in the ass, he made us suck his dick. He made us do stuff to each other. He really like that shit."
Bobby's eyes got big. "Did your mother know about this?"
"Yeah she know. She watch him do it. She was drinking whiskey, always drinking. She don't care, maybe she like it too? I don't know," he looked at Bobby with a look of panic in his eyes.
"Go on," Bobby said. "I don't hate you."
"When I was ten he left my mama in Mexico and he took us and come to Texas. He pay a coyote to bring us across at Piedras Negras into Black Rock, Texas. It means the same, OK? We hid out and live in the shacks with other Mexicanos for awhile. Then he bring us to Oklahoma, first to Lawton, then to Tulsa. In Lawton was lots of Army guys and he made my older brothers do sex with some of them. They pay him to fuck my brothers, you know? Then after maybe six months he bring us to Tulsa."
"I got to admit that's hard to imagine. What about your brothers? Did they go along with it?" Bobby wondered.
"Hell no, they hate it. But if they don't do what he says he beat the shit out of them. You know what that is like I guess."
Bobby nodded. "Go on."
Tony sighed. "When we come to Tulsa we think maybe things maybe get better but they don't. He get me and my brother Carlos in the YMCA. You can swim naked there and some men like to see you and want to do things to you. He say I am big enough to help make money so I had to do that stuff too. You know?"
Bobby frowned. "So you had to let those guys do that stuff to you?"
"Yeah, I had to. We had to go to the parks and let men come to us and we would suck them or let them fuck us and take the money to my father. We had to get 50 dollars for a blow job and 100 dollars if they fucked us. If we didn't bring him enough money he would hurt us bad," Tony's voice broke and he began to stumble as he walked. "I did all those bad things with old men, OK? So now I understand if you hate me. I hate myself."
Bobby took Tony's arm and they walked on. By then they had circled the quadrangle several times. "I still don't hate you Tony. Go on. Where are your brothers now?"
Tony blew his nose with his fingers and wiped them on his pants. "My two oldest brothers Juan and Pablo, they ran away. Pablo was 17 and Juan was 15. They were both in high school. They got jobs somewhere and found a little place to stay and hid out from my father. So me and Carlos had to make all the money for him. We had to do all kinds of really sick shit. It was bad."
"At the end of last summer I was in a park and this guy was looking at me. I thought maybe he wanted to do something, so I asked him if he wanted to fuck me for money."
Tony choked up a little. "He was a cop. He arrested me and took me to jail. To tell you the truth, I was glad. I was scared, but I was glad."
Bobby kept holding Tony's arm. "So then what happened?"
"So then a lot of people talked to me about what I was doing and I told them, I told them everything about my father and the money and everything."
"Go on," Bobby said as they walked on. "Where is your father now?"
"I don't know for sure. He is in jail somewhere I think, and when he gets out he will be deported back to Mexico. Me and Carlos had nowhere to go, so after a month or so they sent us here to the Boys Home. I was pretty fucked up so I have to stay here. I think Carlos is in a foster home now. He was only here for about two weeks. I don't know where Juan and Pablo are. I think somewhere in Tulsa but I don't know where."
Bobby walked on with Tony a little longer. They got to the big tree and Bobby stopped. "Why should I hate you?" He asked.
Tony sat down and leaned back against the tree. "Because it is different than with you. You didn't let nobody fuck with you. You fought back, you ran away, you didn't let nobody fuck with you. You are more braver than me, Bobby. I just did what I was told."
"You did what you thought you had to do," Bobby said. "You didn't like it, did you?"
Tony began to sob. "Yeah, some of it. I'm sorry, but that's the truth. I don't like it with the old men, and I don't like when they hurt me, but with some of them, yeah, I like it. That's why you gonna hate me."
It was Bobby's turn to put his arm around Tony's shoulder. "I can't hate you. You have been so nice to me. You protected me from that boy in the shower. You even rescued me in my dream. I can't hate you Tony. You are the best friend I ever had."
Tony began to sob. Bobby wanted to take him in his arms and hold him but he was afraid someone was watching and would not understand. So they just sat there with Bobby's hand on Tony's shoulder, rubbing his back and waiting for him to stop crying.
Finally Bobby asked quietly. "Who has loved you Tony? Who has really loved you, for you?"
Tony took a deep breath and leaned his head back against the tree. "Nobody. I think nobody ever really loved me," he shook his head. "Nobody."
"Yeah, me too," Bobby said. "Everybody I have ever cared about has either hurt me or run away. Except you, and you've never wanted anything from me."
Bobby looked at Tony whose face was wet with tears. He said, "I think maybe you love me Tony."
"You're right," Tony said. " I really do love you."
Bobby stood and took his hand. "Let's go to church," he said.
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