Matt and Tim

by Small Town Guy

Chapter 10

Tim came from the boy's room that Friday. He still held his stomach.

"...Oh Matty! I can't do this! That's my third time in there. You gotta take over for me. I didn't sleep at all last night! All I did was pace around my room. I tried to get on the Net and study some of this trig. I couldn't think!"

Matt handed a workbook to Tim, along with the thick textbook.

"I'm going to be right next to you in there! Just tell them that story about the gold miner and the Indian chief. They'll love it. Just be a little silly. If you goof anything, they'll all think it's just a joke!"

They entered the classroom and placed items on the desk. There were seventeen students present. Tim felt some relief as his eyes fell to Mrs. Jenkins at the rear of the room. Matt began drawing a triangle on the chalkboard with a straightedge. Tim stood behind the desk.

"...Umm....I'm Tim Webster......and I'm awful nervous up here!"

Mrs. Jenkins smiled.

"Tim......These students are failing. Things are really on the line for some of them. Everything from being cut from sports teams to losing scholarships. They're more nervous than you!"

It was the first Tim glanced over the faces in the room. Indeed, they appeared frightened and nervous.

"Okay......Well Matt is going to help out here by drawing on the board. That'll save me time from having to do it...

"As you all know any geometric form can be moved without changing its size or shape. It doesn't make any difference how a triangle is positioned. Yet, for simplicity, a triangle is drawn as Matt has done here......This is called standard position. It just makes things a bit more easy to see and understand."

After twenty minutes of basics on the chalkboard, Tim turned to the class.

"Okay, now we get into sines, cosines and tangents. Now this isn't all that difficult. There's an easy way to remember the three basic formulas...

"There was this gold miner back in 1849....You've heard of the forty niners....Well he hit it rich! He knew he had to get into town to stake his claim, but his trig was very rusty. He figured he'd sleep on it and try drawing out his map in the morning.

"Well, while he was sleeping, he started dreaming of an Indian chief he had as a friend years before. He appeared to him and said, 'Sohcahtoa!......Sohcahtoa!' Then he disappeared!

"That morning he started making his breakfast over his campfire. While he was waiting for it to cook, he recalled his dream. He picked up a twig and drew on the ground."

He turned to the board and wrote.

SOH CAH TOA

"Well, he thought about that and knew there was no such word! It wasn't even in the chief's native language. He was about to give up on it but suddenly noticed something. These could be the respective sides of a triangle!"

He returned to the board. Writing below the original he put in extra spaces and division symbols.

S=O/H C=A/H T=O/A

"And now it struck him!......The sine equals the opposite over the hypotenuse. The cosine equals the adjacent over the hypotenuse. And the tangent equals the opposite over the adjacent!...

"All you have to remember is this silly sohcahtoa story and the formulas are there!"

He continued on with funny stories and mnemonics as memory aids. Before long another forty five minutes passed. As Matt, he found he could talk as he focused on something other than the students. He began to notice students smiling and taking notes. Some indeed had relief on their faces. He knew many were understanding by their expressions alone.

After an hour, Mrs. Jenkins ended the first lesson. The students passed out. Although many nodded toward Tim in thanks, nobody as yet spoke to him. Mrs. Jenkins joined them at the desk.

"...Timmy! That was fantastic! Look! I took notes myself! I stayed here today to see what your secrets were. I'm going to apply lots of this to my own teaching!"

Late that evening, the boys put up their game controllers in Tim's basement.

"...I'm just not into it, Matt! I'm beat! Whadda day! I thought for sure I was gonna shit my pants up there!"

"You did great!......I don't know what was, but I could just see the kids understanding!

"I just didn't like that one girl in the front row!......Every time you smiled, she would too! I know she was looking at your braces!......I could tell!......I....I was jealous!"

Tim settled back on the couch and threw his arm over Matt's shoulders.

"...Now that's one thing you don't have to worry about!"

"Well, I think I'd better head home, Timmy."

"No! Not yet! Just a few more minutes."

"Tim!....You're beat! Go to bed. I'll come over tomorrow for a little while. I've got like a ton of homework! I've got to put the finishing touches on my presentation and I want you to read it over."

"You're going to talk about it! You're not going to read it!"

"Well, I mean just to see if I'm making it too complicated again. You know I always do that!"

"What's the topic?"

"...Suicide and bullying again."

"...You already did..."

"No! This is going to be different....a bit. I finally found some photos on the Net of some kids that were bullied. Their noses are bleeding. They got black eyes. Their heads are bandaged!"

"I don't think that's a good idea. Isn't that kinda gory? People don't like to see that stuff!"

"I know!......Tim....I don't want to give the parents the idea were pushing the gay thing too much. Lots of 'em just think we're all doin' sex with each other!......And I can just imagine what they're thinkin'!......Us boys with the butt-sex!....The girls with their carpet munchin'!"

"Hee, hee, hee!"

"It's not funny, Tim! Parents don't like to even think of that shit! They don't think of any of us just holding hands or hugging or kissin'. They don't see the love the closeness we have with each other! They see all that gay porn come to mind! I wanna show them what intolerance does for these kids. I want them to think about not pushing their kids into depression and suicide. I wanna scare 'em! I wanna indirectly ask them a question......'Do you want a gay kid....or a dead kid?' Kinda like that!......Didn't you see little Toby at the table a few days ago?......He was trying so hard not to cry! He's really hurtin'! And I hurt just to see him like that! I don't want to promote gay! I want to prevent hurt! Isn't that what it's all about?"

"Oh yeah......I've been on the Net too......Gay kid or dead kid?......I've seen some sites where I'm sure the parents would rather have 'em dead! Really! They just hate 'em so! It's just so hard for me to understand. They kick 'em out of the house! They don't care how they're livin'. Most of 'em just turn into prostitutes and crack heads!"

Matt reached for Tim's hand. Tim could see his face reflect deep thought.

"...Oh! I forgot to tell you. I got hold of Shelly. Her and Angel are all for our....umm.... double date!......They said next weekend will be great. We can make plans at the next GSA meeting. Angel has her own car! She'll be picking us all up...

"Yeah, must be nice to have a car..."

"I thought if it, Matt......It's just I'd never be able to drive my parents cars. The insurance would be through the roof! I think it would be great in the winter......The summer? Awh! We don't really go anywhere, right? We don't really need a car to go to the river or park. And it's kinda like little Toby says....We don't need all that stuff. We got each other!"

Matt turned to him with a huge smile.

"...You got that right!"

They drew close into each others arms and kissed deeply.

"...Boys?....Boys?" Ayumi called from the top of the stairs, "I'm home! Snack time!"

They entered the kitchen to the aroma of pizza. A large box sat on the table in the nook.

Ayumi smiled as they attacked the cardboard box.

"...You two remind me of vultures or something!"

"Oh thanks, Mom!......I wasn't even thinking of it! I'm hungry! And this is perfect!"

"I have no idea how you two stay so skinny!"

They both ate eagerly. Sauce covered their mouths and chins.

"...Umm....Mom......Next weekend me 'n' Matt kinda think we have dates with a couple girls from school......Umm......Well, it isn't really a date or that. We're just gonna kinda hangout. Is that okay?"

"...Oh dear!......Dad and I were going to take you two out next Saturday night..."

"...Well, what's the big deal? Where are we goin'?"

Ayumi walked across the kitchen. She stood on a step stool and reached for something which was placed high up, over one of the cabinets. She returned with a large picture frame.

"...I wanted this to be a surprise..."

"...Principal Emerson called me to stop at the school today. He's very impressed with your tutoring. I didn't want you to find this. I wanted to give it to you and see your reaction. Dad's in Chicago for a week......He told me not to wait for him."

She handed him the frame. Within it was an elegant certificate of merit for tutoring.

"Wow!....Neat!..."

"I bought the frame on my way to work today. I couldn't wait! And I just had to show it off to everyone!...

"It's a wonderful achievement!......Not just the tutoring, Timmy. You came here all nervous and scared......Your first day before school....you left your breakfast in the toilet! You were so pale and scared. It hurt me so!..."

She paused and reached out for Matt's shoulders and have him a hug.

"...And on the first day of school you met Matt......And that's where the big changes started!......You talked more....You didn't hide in your room. You went out with Matt swimming and made more friends out there. You tutored the poorer students. And now you're almost teaching a whole classroom! You seem so much happier now! You're not such a loner. Dad and I were really worried about you...

"...And Matty......I know the most of this is because of you! Dad's right! The two of you complement each other!......You support each other! And where one of you falls a bit short, the other is always there to take up the slack. All this social stuff is important later in life. It's not just the learning you do in school!...

"Now you're both in the science club......And the GSA!...

"Matty......I can't give names out yet......A friend of mine was at your meeting. She was very impressed by your little......presentation."

"...Awh gee!......The whole town's gonna know about that now!"

"I think the whole town should know about it!......Don't feel bad because you broke down a bit there. You're both such....such feeling boys! You don't see too much of that today. And you took such a concern over your friend Scooter!....And we're still working on that....It's just that I wish I didn't have to find out about it the way I did. You boys can always come to us about anything! I don't care about how awful or how terrible you may think something is......We're always here for you. We want to help!...

"We aren't going to......what do you kids say?......Jump into your shit?! ....Get on your ass?....Bitch at you?! It's not gonna happen!..."

"...Ayumi!......Are you spoiling MY BOYS?!......That's MY job!"

"Hi Mom......I was just letting you finish your news and weather..."

Clara went for the coffee maker.

"..Well," Ayumi continued, "What do you say we have the girls come along?"

"...Yeah! Why not?!"

"...Girls?" Clara asked, "What's this about girls?"

"...Ohhh, it seems as though the boys were going to be going out with a couple girls they met at school."

"...Well I won't allow it!" she yelled, waving her curved finger in the air, "I've only got a few more years left in this world......And I'm not sharing MY BOYS with anyone!"

She reached into the refrigerator for the container of cream. She peeked around the door.

"...And that includes you, Ayumi!"

She made her way to the nook and sat.

"...I'm a jealous ole lady!"

After they had eaten, the boys helped gather up the plates and paper towels.

"...So, Matt......Are you going to spend the night tonight?" Ayumi asked.

"...Umm....No. I think I'd better just go home. I've got more work on another report and I want Timmy to read it tomorrow. Maybe you should look at it too...

"It's more on suicides. I hate to make it sound all sad, but lots of people get the wrong idea about the GSA," he said, signaling Ayumi with a cautious glance at Clara, "Too many people seem to think we're pushing....umm....a different agenda! I'm trying to concentrate on safety more than......other things! We're pushing for tolerance....umm....not other things.

"With our new outreach program this year, we hope to help parents understand what's going on. Most of the kids at school are cool with it. It's the parents that are shittin' bricks!

"Oh! Excuse me!"

Ayumi laughed.

"Don't worry about it, Matty. I get a bit angry with them too. We need lots of education today....And not just for the students!"

Matt and Tim stood in the garage where Matt had parked his bike. He was recharging the battery for his lights. He disconnected the cord from the wall outlet. He felt Tim's arms go around his waist and hands go under his shirt.

"Shit Matty. I wish you could stay. I really miss our nights together. I just wanna touch you and hug you and feel us all up close to each other..."

"Yeah, but you're right Timmy......We really gotta cool it a bit..."

Ayumi's eyes fell to a textbook on the island with Matt's notebook beneath it. She reached for it and ran through the laundry room to the garage door. She stopped short of the aluminum door as she saw the boy's reflections in the convex mirror of her SUV.

Tim still stood behind Matt with his arms around him. There was no doubt he was kissing his neck. Matt turned and put his arms around Tim's neck. They kissed deeply for several seconds, pausing for several more and kissing again. It hadn't appeared adolescent. Indeed it appeared most mature and serious.

They made their way to the overhead door, where Matt mounted his bike. Tim reached out and held Matt's head in his hands as they kissed again. Matt's hand held to Tim's hip.

"Well, I'll catch you tomorrow Timmy......I'll print out my report. If you think it's too gory, I'll have to figure something else out."

"Sure. See you then..."

Tim reentered the kitchen through the laundry room. Ayumi already sat at the nook, her mug before her.

"Well, Mom......I'm goin' to sleep. I didn't sleep at all last night with that class I had today."

"Okay, hon..."

He disappeared into his room.

"Well, there was certainly no mistaking that!......I know what I saw!......And I saw it several times!...

"Ken has to know......I've got to tell him......Well, here's the ultimate test as to how open-minded we are. Nothing can be done about it. And keeping them apart isn't going to solve anything. They're good boys! I'm just worried about the......sex part!...

"There, I said it!....If only in my mind. It's not just the STD's. I've seen too much as a doctor....Damage. Infections. Corrective surgeries. Oh dear.....Do I wait 'til Ken's back? Do I talk to Tim tomorrow? How do I bring it up? Oh! The poor little guy is going to be so embarrassed!......Well, me too. Now I really see what they mean when they tell doctors it's different when it's your own family.

"How do I bring it up? I'll......well, I'll just be honest with him. I ran out with Matt's notebook and caught them...

"Oh shit! I wish they'd hurry up with my laptop! I'm lost without it! I think I'll just buy a new one! I'll use the old one as sort of a backup. I can't use Tim's. What if he wakes up? I've got to get back to those sites for parents! I'll use Ken's computer. I'll just have to be real careful that I don't delete anything important."

Clara got up and began passing through the living room. Ayumi heard her. She glanced at the clock on the wall of the den.

"Oh my!......Eight seventeen! Without windows in here I had no idea it was morning already."

She switched the computer off and waited a moment for it to shut down.

"I've got to get Mom out of here for a bit. I don't want her to know about this! She wouldn't understand. It would crush her!..."

She watched the monitor go dark and switched the power strip off.

"When did I come in here last night?.....Ten?......I've been in here for ten hours and I don't know anything more than when I started! I guess I'm sorta on my own. I should really wait until Ken comes back. Maybe Tim would feel more comfortable with him!

"No! I've put this off for way too long as it is. I'll just have to wing it!"

She entered the kitchen to see Clara already sipping a coffee in her housecoat.

"...Ayumi?....You're up already? You should rest on your days off. I'm quite capable of fixing Tim's breakfast!"

Ayumi poured the remaining cup of cold coffee from the carafe and placed it into the microwave. Her thoughts were deep and distant.

"...I think a traditional bacon and eggs breakfast is in order today!" Clara said joyfully, "And I mean for all of us! Just let me finish my coffee and get my wits about me!"

Ayumi sat with her familiar chipped, green mug. Clara looked up at her, concerned.

"...Now....Ayumi......You know I agreed not to be the meddling mother-in-law. It just concerns me these past few weeks with your......distant looks. I can tell when you've something on your mind...

"...Now I know Kenny's been gone quite a bit this summer, but..."

"Oh Mom!....No!....It's not that at all!...

"Yes....I've been thinking quite a bit lately. But it's not Ken and I......It's Tim."

"Well now I think he's made quite a turnaround here. It's that little Matty that got him out of his shell! I know it is! They're just constantly hanging onto each other! Why they've never had any friends in their lives! It doesn't surprise me that they're so close, being they're one another's first friend. As you say, it's so important."

"...Umm....You do recall last night where the boys have met girls at school?"

"Oh yes! And I'm sure they knew I was joking with them about that!"

"...Well, umm....I never had to worry about anything with Tim being such a hermit! And I'm sure he knows all the biology behind it. I think I'm going to have to have a talk with him."

Clara was about to sip at her mug but hesitated.

"Oh my!"

"That's right."

"Oh dear!...Oh my stars!......Now you just let me finish my coffee and I'll take the bus to the shopping center. I'll take my phone along!......You can call me when......your done!"

"Mom, calm down! I won't start in right away. It's just that I've put this off for so long! Me! A doctor! I can't talk to my own son!"

"Oh dear. Oh my stars I couldn't bring myself to talk with Kenny either!"

It was here they heard the shower start in the bathroom. Clara got to her feet.

"Oh dear!....I'm out of here!"

"Mom!......We'll have breakfast!......I'll open the subject later."

"Well, you just wait 'til I'm gone! Don't you start in on any of this...... business until I'm out of here!"

An hour later Ayumi began clearing the table. Tim finished a piece of cold toast.

"...Sooo is Matt coming over today?"

"...Yeah, for a little while. He's got lots of homework this week....umm.... He's bringing his report over for me to read. He says he wants to kind of scare parents. I told him that might not work in all cases. I think lots of parents would rather just have their kids die first. I keep thinkin' of Mr. Shelby. Wow! He's mean!"

"...Tim?......Do you think you father and I would do something like that?"

"...Well, I don't think you'd be as bad as him..."

Ayumi slowly slid into the bench seat of the nook, opposite Tim.

"...Umm......Honey, I think we gotta talk about....stuff."

Tim covered his eyes for a moment.

"...Oh shit!......That's your Mom voice!......What did I do now?..."

"Honey, you aren't in any trouble here. I've just been putting this off for way too long."

She gazed over to the island and saw Matt's textbook and notebook.

"I'm not going to lie to you......See Matt's notebook there?......I knew he forgot it last night and I ran to the garage to give it to him. Now I wasn't spying on you two! It's just as I got to the door......Well, you know that misaligned passenger side mirror? I saw you two in the outside mirror of the car..."

Tim covered his face with his hands.

"Ohhh shit!..."

"Now, Timmy......you aren't in any trouble here and neither is Matt!...

"Now I can understand all this. I can see where you wanted to keep this from us. And I'm not even going to ask you if....if you're sure! I can certainly see you are."

"Ohhhh it's bad enough if you saw me out there with a girl....but kissin' a boy?!"

"Tim......I deal with lots of this in the hospital. It's nothing new to me....and I really understand it. There's....there's nothing you can do about it. You aren't in any trouble."

Tim dropped his hands from his face to the table.

"...Mom! You can't say anything about this to Matt's parents! Really! They'll freak! And Matt really thinks his dad could get violent. He's real homophobic!"

"Homophobic?......Oh these kids today are waaay ahead of us when we were their age!"

"Never!......That's none of our business. That's entirely up to him. In fact we'll do everything we can to help him...

"...Now I'll admit it......I've been kinda living in a state of denial over this. I've read up on all this on the Net. I saw the signs....the signals. You just don't want to think your own child is gay, that's all. And not because it's something bad! It's the intolerance out there. I know you have no control over this. I worry about the bullying and the discrimination."

Tim reached for several items on the table and brought them to the sink.

"...There's just one other thing I'm rather concerned with, Honey...

"Oh dear!......There are certain parts of you body that are designed for certain things and not others!"

Tim froze halfway to the table, his eyes wide.

"...Mom?......Are you talking about butt-sex?!"

Ayumi placed her elbows on the table and covered her blushing face with her hands.

"...Oh dear....Oh dear..."

Tim slid back onto the bench seat opposite her.

"...Mom......I'm being honest with you here. Matty and I don't do that! ......In fact we even talked about it. That's gotta hurt!......And we know all the stuff about what kind of internal damage that can cause!"

Ayumi tried to recover herself as she bowed her head.

"...And here I thought it was going to be you who was going to be too shy to discuss this!"

Tim smoothed back his long, black, wet hair. He held out his hands, palms up.

"...Look Mom......You caught me 'n' Matty......Not on purpose. I'm gay, okay? I'm out!"

He sat back and gazed out the window.

"...I think I was twelve....maybe thirteen. Oh I knew all about it. But I was in denial myself until about a little over a year ago. I didn't want to be gay, Mom! I kept wishing there was some kind of....of medicine I could take to make me normal again! I read all about it on the Net. It made me feel a little better knowing I had no control over this, but not much...

"The day I went to school....That first day. I saw Matty at his locker. Mom! I melted! You know how shy and scared I am about meeting people and talking to them. Yeah, I was shy with Matt too. It's just that my shyness started to take a slight less priority. I really wanted to talk to him!"

He turned his glance from the window to her.

"...Do you know why?......Because he was just so damn CUTE!...

"We talked about this later. We didn't know about each other yet. He was checkin' out my butt!......He said he wanted to kiss my ass!"

Ayumi bowed her head again and shaded her eyes with her hand, yet a small smile appeared on her mouth.

"...We....umm....spent quite a bit of time sorta feeling each other out. We were dropping umm....signals to each other. We were both too shy to act on 'em!...

"Remember the day you an Dad went to Korea? I had my braces tightened that day. Well the pain just kept getting worse 'n' worse as the day went on. I was really down about that. I thought I was in for another week of pain. Me 'n' Matt had planned that camping in the back yard for so long!

"Oh, Mom......I was really hurtin'......And sick! I had the chills something awful. I had to run out of the tent to throw up. Little Matty just stayed right there with me! When I got back into the tent, my stomach was okay but my mouth! I could feel the pain in my whole head! And I had such awful chills! I really thought I was getting sick big time.

"You know how I don't like taking pain meds. They scare me. Matty talked me into a capsule. The pain went down but I was still so cold! I just couldn't stop shivering. It was his idea of getting into my sleeping bag with me. He was just sooo sweet about everything. I felt so bad my braces were going to ruin the whole week....

"...Well, he sorta cuddled up to me and rubbed my chest 'n' stuff. Oh! Nothing umm.... well sexy or that. It was just like I could feel his concern for me. He was sooo warm!

"Well, the pill started kicking in here and I just couldn't keep awake! I quit fighting it. I didn't know about it at the time, but Matt was awake most of the night. Umm....thinking about us. He decided to come out to me the next morning ......Wow! I think that was really hard for him. He didn't get too much sleep with all his worrying.

"I woke up before the sun was even up yet. My mouth didn't hurt at all! I was so happy! In fact I was hungry again! I woke Matt to tell him I felt better and to get some snacks.

"Well he couldn't quite reach the lamp to turn it on, so he kinda straddled me. He turned the light on, but he didn't go for the chips 'n' stuff. Oh! The serious look on his face! He said he had something to tell me......and that I might not like it!"

He looked down, stirring his remaining chocolate milk.

"...Mom......I just knew somehow he was trying to come out to me. I knew it! And I was scared!....Oh! Not of that! I was scared he'd think I wouldn't want to be his friend anymore if I knew he was gay. He was having an awful time finding words! I just wanted to squeeze his lungs and get it out! I couldn't say anything. I was just too shy. It would have taken me years! I was so scared he wasn't going to say anything, rather than ruin our friendship..."

He set his spoon down and gazed at the table.

"...Well, he just couldn't find the words. He was just sorta straddling my hips and staring at me....and....and his face kept getting closer 'n' closer to mine. I was sooo hoping he was going to kiss me!......And he did!"

He looked up again.

"...Oh Mom!......My arms just clamped around him! It was the most wonderful moment of my life! And he told me he'd wanted to do that for the longest time! And I told him, 'Me too!'"

He glanced down shyly for a moment.

"We....umm....talked quite a bit after that. About how we met at his locker. How we felt about each other. Some silly stuff we did......And we cried! We held each other and just cried! We were just soooo happy!"

Tim noticed Ayumi quickly wipe her eyes with her fingers.

"...Well, we didn't exactly want to let each other know that!....But we couldn't help it. Matty started crying....Then he got me goin'...

"Then we shut the light off again. We never did get the snacks out! And we just held each other so tight! We were both kinda drained over the whole thing. And Matty kinda asked if we just came out to each other. I said yes. I was too shy to say anything more. Then he said, 'We gotta say it!' And we both told each other that we really liked each other.

"...That's about all I remember. We were so tired! We....we cried ourselves to sleep. Oh, Mom....We just held each other and sobbed ourselves to sleep! I don't know if we passed out or fell asleep!......A little of both I guess. Oh Mom! It was like a ton of stones fell off my back! I just felt so....so lightened!......And wow, we slept 'til past noon!"

Ayumi stood and began clearing more dishes. She blinked rapidly and wiped at her eyes.

"...Oh, and I thought this was going to be so difficult for the both of us. I'm proud of you Honey! And I appreciate your candor....your honesty."

Tim drew out a dishtowel and began drying dishes as Ayumi placed them into the rack. She looked at him. She saw his expression of deep thought as well as relief.

"Those sites are right......This doesn't change a thing. He's still the same person he always was. In fact maybe even better! He's much less shy and quiet."

"...This was umm....kinda nice, Mom. I'm sure glad you're not pissed!"

"Honey......You are what you are and there's no changing that. I'm just so happy it was with Matt and not some druggy teen or some older sleaze! You two are so mature for your age."

"...Umm......How is this gonna effect me 'n' Matty having these ….overnighters?"

"...Oh dear. I don't know! It's not like you're going to get each other pregnant. And I guess STD's aren't too much of a problem here......No butt-sex?"

"No!......I'm sure you know there are lots of......ways to be intimate without that! In fact, we mostly hug and kiss. Just being close is fine! It's strange, Mom. I know it's Matty I'm hugging, but he just feels like a part of me too!...

"I might as well tell you......We've been reading some gay romance novels on the Net. And not the trashy stuff!......Lots of 'em don't even have any sex in them. Lots of 'em are cute! Well, Matt had me read one where there was this gay boy and straight boy. The straight boy didn't love him......He just loved the sex. He ends up finding a girlfriend and dumps the gay boy! Oh! That had such a sad ending. I cried. And well, Matty was saying that he doesn't want that to happen to us! I mean just loving the sex part and not each other. Not that one of us is straight......We just like being together! We don't have to do anything!"

It was here there was a knock at the garage door.

"I'll bet that's Matty!"

Tim returned from the laundry room with Matt following. He held a large notebook which he placed on the breakfast nook.

"...You just missed breakfast," Ayumi put in.

"...Oh I had breakfast at home. My mom made sure of that. She says I'm over here too much as it is. She thinks I might be irritating you."

"Oh never! I've already talked to her about that. We love having you around!"

He sat at the nook and drew out several papers from his notebook.

"...Well, I got my report here for our next big meeting. I post these on the bulletin board in there......I don't exactly read them. I just use these bold paragraph headings as sort of a guide to keep my mind on track."

He set them before Tim.

He drew out a brown manila folder.

"...Umm......Maybe you should take a look at these, Mrs. Webster. I really need some input from adults. If you think these are too gory, just tell me......I won't use 'em..."

She quickly flipped through them. There were young teens in hospital beds. Many were obviously taken with cell phones. There were thick bandaged wrists. Some were still connected to ventilators. A young girl lie pale with an IV to the back of her hand. Many were connected to modern monitors. A young boy sat on the ground, his back against a tree. Blood ran from his nose and mouth as well as a cut from above his eye. A teen girl lie against a garbage can in some ally. Her blond hair was red with blood. She was obviously conscious and crying. Another girl lie on a tiled kitchen floor. The streaks of blood along the tiles indicated her intensive effort at defensive actions.

Ayumi shut her eyes tightly as she closed the cover of the folder.

"...Yes! They're very gory, Matt......Very much so!"

"...Well......I guess I'd better not use them then..."

"No! Use them!......Put them up on your bulletin board! Pass them out! Let the parents see this!" she replied, stabbing her finger onto the folder.

She made her way to a stool at the island and sat weakly. She looked at Tim and cast her arm out, indicating the folder.

"...Timmy....THIS is what I worry about! Nothing else! This is my only worry! There are so many people out there with such....such hatred!"

Tim looked up at Matt from across the table.

"...Umm......Matty......Last night......when you were getting your bike out of the garage? Umm......My mom saw us!..."

Matt's face paled. He placed his elbows on the table and covered his face with his hands.

"...Oh! Shit!.....Am I in trouble now!"

Ayumi quickly jumped from the stool and ran for Matt. She hugged him deeply.

"...No!....No! You aren't in any trouble! You haven't done anything wrong! Timmy told me all about you two. There isn't going to be any trouble!"

She placed her hand on the folder and slid it back and forth.

"I don't need to look at anymore of these photos! I've seen too much of this in person! But I really think more parents need to see this!"

She returned to the stool.

"...Matty......You forgot your notebook last night. I ran to the garage with it. I accidentally saw you two in the car mirror..."

"...Umm......Well, you must have known, huh?......I mean about me 'n' Tim..."

"Yes......And I was denying what I was seeing, but not anymore."

"A few days ago, umm......I told Tim I just wanted to come out! I was really getting tired of it. It's like we're lying. I told him we aren't exactly saying the words but we're still lying.

"I wanna tell my parents sooo bad. But I know they're gonna throw a fit. I know it!"

"We'll get through this, boys!...

"Now......First off, I understand this. It's just that I don't think Gram will. Now it may not be totally honest, but she can't know about this. It'll crush her. And she's getting up there. I don't know how she'll handle this. She's from a different generation..."

It was here Ayumi noticed a fancy certificate partly out of Matt's notebook. It seemed to have the same embossed gold star on it as Tim's had. She went for it and slid it out.

"What's this?"

"Oh......Yesterday when Timmy got that certificate?......Principal Emerson called my mom. I got one too! Mr. Heath, my English teacher put in a good word for me. He says my writing is good! And he even thinks my public speaking is getting better! I kinda got recognized for it. I was going to show it today, but I'm just not so happy about it now..."

"...And why not?!"

"...Well, umm......with everything that's happened now?..."

"Matty!....Honey!......Nothing bad has happened here! Now I've been thinking about all of this..."

She returned to the stool.

"Next Saturday night......we're all going out!....You boys take the girls along. We'll take Gram......We'll even invite your parents, Matt. We'll all get together!......And we're going to find a way through all this!...

"Now Ken's going to be home shortly. I'm going to talk to him about this..."

Both boys allowed a moan to slip.

"...No!......Now don't you worry about him! Why, I believe he's even more open-minded over all this than I am! He'll help. I know he will!...

"And Matty, we aren't saying anything to your parents. Now I truly believe that's not a lie! It's something personal. And nobody else should be involved with it unless it's okay with you. You do what you think you should do."

She saw a deep concern on his face.

"...I really want to come out. I just know it's really gonna hurt my mom!......And Dad! Wow! I'm worried we're gonna end up just like Scooter 'n' Toby. Oh shit!......If I couldn't see Timmy any more......I think I'd go nuts! I really do! I'd go right out of my mind!"

Ayumi approached the table again and tapped the folder of photos.

"...Matty?......Is this what this folder is all about?....The gory pictures? ....The attempted suicides?...."

His chin fell to his chest.

"...Umm....yeah, I think so......I think in the back of my mind that's why I printed 'em out. I don't wanna end up like little Scoot! He's just hurtin' so bad. When I think about him, there's like this giant hand in my chest....just crushing my heart! And....and I keep thinkin' that could very easily be me 'n' Timmy."

Ayumi slid onto the bench seat beside Matt.

"...I can't tell you what to do here, Matty. We can try to help where we can but...

"You know if your parents don't want you with Timmy, there's really nothing anyone can do about that. They're your parents! There could be all kinds of legal trouble over this. I've seen it! In my practice! Unless they're abusing you somehow, nobody can do anything about this. Now if you want my opinion in this......I'd say to just keep quiet about it. No....Maybe that's not being entirely truthful, but you've got to consider everything...

"Now before we get all....all defeatist over this......Let's just see what can be done. We'll all go out to your favorite pizza or hamburger shop. We'll talk. We'll try to be as....as upbeat as we can. We'll make this a double celebration for you boys and your certificates!...

"And I am very impressed by your certificate too, Matty. I read your story in the paper about the science club last year. It was very articulate if I say so myself."

Tim folded the damp dishtowel on the table before himself.

"...Umm....Mom?......Are you sure you should tell Dad about this? I think men are lots different about this. It's like....well like they raised umm....sissies or something..."

"Timmy!....You father is not like that! He was never that stereotypical jock!...

"Do you ever see him out drinking?....With his navy buddies? They're still all together! Do you ever see him watching sports on TV? or going to poker parties?...

"You father was never like that....Not even as a boy! He was very quiet and shy. I think he saw lots of himself in you......Just because a man is sensitive doesn't make him a sissy! You father changed your diapers! He fed you at four in the morning! First he played peekaboo with you. He bought you stuffed animals. And as you got older, he started a bit more roughhousing with you.

"...It's just as you got older....you got so quiet. You never said anything. We didn't know what was wrong! Is this what that was all about?"

Tim nodded his head as he gazed down.

"...Yeah......Some of it. I was just so scared to admit I was gay..."

"Same here, Timmy," Matt put in reaching across the table to squeeze his fingers.

"...Mom?......Were you 'n' Dad going to have me go to a psychologist?"

"...Yes were were!......Not to be mean to you....or scare you. It was you were just too quiet and way too much of a loner. We were worried! In fact, I think we were just several days away from it happening when you came home with Matty here."

She reached out to grip Matt's hand.

"Oh Matty! We were just soooo happy you came into Tim's life! What a turnaround! And in just a few months! Look at you two! Writing, giving talks, tutoring, teaching seniors! Building projects in the science lab! And now the GSA!"

"I think the GSA was the easiest, Mom. It's like Matt says......When you're gay it's one thing....When you have a boyfriend....it's something entirely else!"

"Well, you certainly don't have to worry about your father!"

She seemed to gaze down somewhat shyly.

"I'll never forget that first night you two were here together. Remember the both of you fell asleep on the couch downstairs? I called to you, but you didn't answer. When I went down there I found you two on the couch. Both sound asleep! Little Matty here was kinda holding you in his arms. He understood you. You were scared and alone. His hand was kind of under your shirt as though he was rubbing your chest. And you were just gripping onto his arm as though you didn't want him to leave...

"I never told you this, but I thought it was just so cute! And that's the word I mean to use. I ran back down there with the camera. I took a few pictures of you both!"

"Oh Mom!"

"Yes I did. And after a few shots, I suddenly started thinking......well, that maybe it wasn't quite so cute......And I told your father that. Do you know what he said, Timmy?....He said he knew what I was talking about......And he didn't care! He said you're both made for each other!"

Tim's eyes seemed to widen.

"...He really said that?"

"He sure did!...

"I never....well....printed those shots out, but they're still on the camera!

"Now! Why don't you boys go do something today......outside!......You'll be inside all winter again!"

Both boys rode along on their bikes, without much talk. Instantly, Tim knew Matt's direction. Again they climbed the grassy knoll beside the dam. The grass was now mostly brown and near dead. The trees were brilliant colors. The air had a crisp bite but in their exercise, they failed to notice. Matt quickly ran to the large stone blocks beside the spillway and sat. Tim slowly joined him. The rumble of the water could be felt through the ground.

"...Why can't we go out to the park?......Why do you have to keep coming here?"

"You know why, Timmy. The rock out at the lake used to be my favorite thinking spot. Now I like being here to think!"

"...Scooter 'n' Toby?"

"...Yup! I don't know why I want to come here. Everything I think of here is scarey!"

Tim sat beside him and dangled his feet over the edge.

"I....I don't like thinking about this stuff, Matty. It scares me too! Poor Scoot 'n' Tob. I really feel for them. And......and I don't like thinking about bein' in their places! Oh shit! If we couldn't see each other any more!......I really don't know what I'd do! I don't even like to think about it!"

"...Well, at least you're out to your parents now. Your mom seemed pretty cool with it. Did she freak?"

"...No. Umm......I actually think she was more shy about it than me. It was easy to talk. Well, I mean when she said she saw us in the garage......It was like....This is it! No excuses! Hey! I got caught! She knows!......I didn't have to sit there tryin' to think up all kinds of excuses! It was easier to think....talk. I just let it all out! I told her everything!..."

Matt grabbed a handful of pebbles and began tossing them into the water.

"Ummm......If something happens....and I can't see you anymore. If I get my cell taken away, and my computer......Keep coming here every chance you can get. Okay?..."

Tim's face paled as he drew closer to Matt. He put his arm around him and pulled him close. Matt was hoping for some positive response from him, but he remained silent. Both suddenly realized the possibilities.

"Timmy......Don't tell your parents about my plans......You know the stuff we talked about......About the suicide prevention lines and stuff. If we get separated......Let me tell you, I'm gonna scare the fuckin' shit out of my parents!"

They gazed silently at the whirlpool area. It still did its lazy counterclockwise turn. It was covered with brown soggy leaves, twigs and grass.

"...Timmy....umm....your parents are kinda smart, huh?"

"Yeah......Mom's a doctor....Dad's an engineer......He taught me most all my math. Even before I got to it in school. I guess that's why I never had any trouble with it."

"...Well, my mom isn't stupid......My dad keeps sayin' he is. He keeps tellin' me to study hard so I don't have to do what he's doin'......He's a mechanic at the mill. He has to know all kinds of stuff about hydraulics and air compressors. He has to repair big motors. He repairs the overhead cranes. You can't be stupid to do that, right?"

"Yeah. I guess you'd sure have to know lots of stuff to do that..."

"...Well, he tries hard. I wouldn't mind a job where I had to get dirty. I just don't wanna have to bust my ass like him. I know he can't afford all kinds of stuff......the latest video game systems....a motorbike....a car. I never needed that stuff, Timmy. Even before I met you! I liked just layin' on my warm rock at the lake and thinking about stuff. I liked walking through the park and feeding the chipmunks and squirrels. Sometimes I'd even bring my notebook to the pavilion. Hee,hee......One day I got involved in writing and I wasn't paying attention to the squirrels......They jumped up on my shoulder and started taking peanuts out of my shirt pocket! Awwhh, I felt bad that I forgot about them...

"...Anyhow......I really don't need any of that stuff. I was happy just reading and writing. And now....with you....I really don't need those things!"

"Oh, Matty!" Tim gasped, reaching out for him.

They held each other tightly and kissed quickly.

"...HEY!......None of that out here!"

They turned quickly to see Scooter walking toward them.

"Holy shit, Scoot! You scared the fuck outta us!"

Scooter seemed healthy and a bit more happy than in the past. He smiled as he wedged himself between them. He seemed a bit taller than when they last saw him. His face reflected a sudden maturity and new knowledge. He placed his arms around them both and pulled them close.

"...So how's things goin' Scoot?" Tim asked.

"In a minute!......I need a hug!"

He threw his arms around Tim for a quick hug. He turned and did the same with Matt.

"...Umm......I still can't see Toby, but there's just something about all this that seems to make me a bit happier..."

He threw his arms behind them both and pulled them closer to himself.

"...My counselor in school got me to see a psychologist. Umm....Tim. I think your mother had a little something to do with this...

"...Well, I was kinda nervous about that!......I didn't know if they were planning on getting me into a padded cell or what! It was a lady!......Wow! Kinda young 'n' pretty too. I don't know how old she was, but she could almost have passed as a college girl!...

"Well, guys......She's gay friendly! She understands this stuff. I told her about me 'n' Toby when were were younger. You know, with all the huggin' and stuff. We really didn't understand it yet. Well, she understood everything! It was almost like she knew what I was going to say....before I said it!...

"I guess she talked with my parents some. I wasn't there for that. I sure wanted to be! She said my dad was difficult, or something like that. She wants to get him into a GSA meeting in school. She wants him to see the kids in there! How cool they are with gays. And how some even have gay friends! I get the idea that Principal Emerson is in on this too. Dad......well he's awful stubborn. He called it a fag club! And he said he doesn't want anything to do with pansy-asses!......He's really got this......macho thing about him. He said he didn't wanna see a bunch of queers prancing around!"

Matt snapped his head toward Scooter.

"That's what he thinks the GSA is about?!"

Scooter simply shrugged.

"...What can I say?..."

The three silently gazed at the whirlpool for a minute.

"...Yeah," Scooter continued, "This is the happiest place in the world to me...

"Oh wow! The first day you caught me 'n' Toby out here. We were really scared!"

"Hey!" Matt said, "We told you we were gay too!......We even kissed for you!"

"Big deal! I've seen lots of boys do that!....And they aren't gay!"

"You're shittin' me!" Tim gasped.

"No!......Haven't you seen it?!......Well, it's mostly the emos. They kiss each other for the girls. The girls like to watch......They go crazy!"

"You're shittin' me!..."

"No! They do! Really!......Haven't you seen it on the Net?"

"No!"

Matt leaned forward to look at Tim. He was glancing down at the water shyly.

"You never heard of that, Tim?"

Tim shook his head.

"...Yeah....They do!......I don't know why, but the girls love it! I told you about that before....The Japanese boy bands?" Matt added.

"Wow, I never knew that!"

They both felt Scooter tug at them, shaking them.

"...Well, I was kinda hoping you guys would be down here. I came here a couple times, just looking for you. I wanna thank you for helping me 'n' Tob. I know you had something to do with all this!"

"Well," Matt began quietly, "Tim's mother kinda caught us talking about it. She's a doctor. She knows lots of people...

"Tim's out with her, you know..."

Scooter snapped his head toward Tim.

"Did she go ballistic on you?!"

Tim shook his head as he continued to gaze at the water below.

"...Umm she was kinda cool about it......Hey! She's a doctor! She knows this isn't something that someone chooses!"

"Wow. Cool!"

"...Umm......Me 'n' Matt got caught in my garage!"

"Oh! Bummer!......Kissin'?!"

"Oh yeah!"

"Did she jump around screamin' and yellin' at Matty?!"

"No!......She didn't yell at either of us....She understands."

"Wow!......Must be nice!"

He turned to Matt.

"Did your parents go nutso?!"

"...Umm....No....They don't know about it yet..."

"Oh shit! You guys gotta be careful!......What happened to me 'n' Tob....oh shit, I wouldn't want that to happen to anybody!"

"Yeah. We're really hurtin' for you 'n' Tob. Oh shit! I don't know what I'd do!"

Scooter looked at Tim again.

"...So what's yer dad think?......Did he go psycho on you?!"

"...Umm......I think my mom's tellin' him right about now..."

Scooter covered his mouth with his hand as though it were a microphone.

"Oh, oh......Houston?....We've got a problem!"

The boys couldn't help but snicker at Scooter's attempt at humor.

"...Oh yeah! I'll bet that house is reachin' critical mass right about now......Pretty soon we're gonna see a bright flash of light and feel the heat burnin' us. Then we'll feel the shock-wave! We won't be alive to see the mushroom cloud!"

"Well......I don't know exactly how he's gonna take it....but I don't think that will happen! Mom thinks he'll be kinda cool with it."

"Really?......Why do some kids have all the luck, and the rest of us don't have any?!"

Scooter gazed out over the river again. He couldn't resist a shy smile.

"...Yup! I think this is the happiest place in the world for me."

He dipped his head with a shy, embarrassed smile. His auburn hair partially covered it.

"...This is where Toby and I had our first kiss......Well, not that we didn't kiss before! It was last year. We were way out in the middle of the river there. Little Toby was just shivering! It was hot that day! And the water was as warm as piss! He's always cold! I felt bad for him. I kinda hugged him......and he hugged me back. I thought he was just trying to get warm. Our hug......wow......It was sure different this time! I don't really know how to explain it. It sure wasn't the umm....friendly kind we were so used to. And I was looking at his mouth! When Toby gets cold and shivers....his mouth kinda gets this cute little pout to it. Oh shit! We started kissing and I don't think we stopped for like......a couple minutes!......We both felt that right down to our little weenies!"

Matt and Tim chuckled shyly.

"Oh! I'm not lyin' to you! We still call that our first kiss! I think that's when we knew!"

His smile slowly faded as he bowed his head.

"Well......I gotta get goin'......I was just hopin' to run into you guys. You've been great to us. I just wanted to thank you."

He leaned over to give Tim a quick kiss on his cheek. Turning, he did the same with Matt.

He noticed Tim touch his cheek with his fingertips.

"...Oh gee, Scoot....That was kinda sweet."

Scooter got to his feet, brushing dirt and pebbles from his bottom.

"You guys are great!"

Tim got to his feet with a concerned look on his face.

"...Umm......You're gonna be like....okay now, Scoot?"

Scooter gave him a thumbs up.

"I'll make it. Don't worry about me. You guys gotta get your own shit straightened out now. I'll be rootin' for you!"

Minutes later Matt and Tim broke their silence. Tim was first to speak.

"...He seemed a bit more up today, huh?"

"...Yeah, I guess so. As much as he can be. I just hope we don't have to go through something like that!"

Back at Tim's house, Ken sat at the breakfast nook, Ayumi sat opposite him. He reached out and took her hand into his.

"...Kipi!......Smile!......It's not the apocalypse!...

"Just think about it......Tim's not tied down in a hospital bed going through withdrawal. He's not in some juvie detention hall for armed robbery. He isn't dying of some form of cancer. He doesn't have a pregnant fourteen-year-old girlfriend. He isn't in ICU because he crashed a stolen car in a police pursuit!"

She managed a weak smile.

"Oh hon......You always did look at the bright side of everything!...

"Oh we had it soooo hard through college! We were skimpin' and saving just to be able to go out for a burger on the weekend!......And we really couldn't afford that!...

"...And....and we vowed we'd never grow old!"

"...Maybe we'd better get some mental help," he said, smiling, "I think we might have some Peter Pan complex or something."

"No......You were right about all that....'Growing up is mandatory.... Growing old is optional!' I think our young outlook on life has got us through lots! We never really had a thing, because we couldn't afford it. And now that we're doing well, we find we don't really need any of that stuff...

"Little Timmy is sooo smart! And he's really never been a problem. Yes, he's been such a loner. Yet......he spent his time reading. How many kids today read anything?! He's got hundreds of books in his room. I'd like to get in there and throw out ninety percent of 'em. But I think he's way ahead of other kids his age. He's put so much into learning! But then again, what else did he do?"

She sipped at her coffee and glanced out the window thoughtfully.

"I know there was nothing to prevent this......Yet I keep thinking....what if we had done something different?"

"Not a chance!....It's out of our hands, Keep. Nobody really understands any of this. It's just body chemistry! It's no different than eye and hair color....I do worry about the prejudice out there though..."

"Yes! Me too! They're such cute little guys...

"...Soooo......Timmy has already asked how this is going to effect their....overnighters."

"...Yeah!......I've been thinking about that too."

He took deep thought for a moment and shrugged.

"...I recall a kid back in high school....Junior high!....Billy! Now I wasn't pals with him or anything. It's just......Well he was one of those kids who just couldn't keep it in his pants!"

Ayumi chuckled.

"...Keep......He had a thirteen-year-old pregnant when he was in seventh grade!......Before he graduated......There were five unwanted pregnancies in that school! His parents did everything short of chaining him to a wall! The parents with daughters wouldn't let their girls anywhere near him!......It didn't do any good! At a game one day, they caught him under the bleachers. I mean he was bangin' a girl right on the ground!....No blanket or anything!"

Ayumi blushed as she covered her eyes.

"...Would it do any good, Keep?......I mean keeping the boys apart like that?......We know where they are! They're down in the family room....or out in the tent. They aren't at some wild party with drugs and alcohol, borrowing the bedroom! They aren't in the back seat of some friend's car as it tears down the highway at ninety! They aren't in some fleabag room, rented to them by some dirty ole sleaze!...

"...I umm....really don't like the idea if it......but when you consider the alternatives..."

They sat in silence for a moment before Ken continued.

"I never even thought we'd be having this discussion......This was rather easy for me...

"...Do you know what I really worried about?"

Ayumi glanced over her mug at him, waiting for him to continue.

"...I worried about all these other kids who have it quite well. I worried about Tim coming to us for a new car! And to be able to go on these cruises with fifteen-year-olds! And the motorcycle! And all these underage trips to Europe!....doin' God-knows-what in some who-knows-where hotel! I know how you like to spoil him. And I really thought we were going to have one big argument over this! I'm not handing that kid anything, Kipi!"

She nodded her head.

"...Yes....I understand....perfectly!"

"...Well, I'm glad you do. That's not being mean, Keep! Handing these kids all these things....that's being mean! They get out into the real world and they just can't function! They're lost! They had mommy 'n' daddy doing everything for them, and now they can't do for themselves! No! That boy's gonna work for stuff, just like we had to!...

"We made a pact with each other that we wouldn't ask our parents for anything! And we followed through on that!...

"Remember our little three-room apartment we were living together in?"

Ayumi gave a sweet smile at the memory and nodded her head.

"...It was....well....cozy!....compact!"

"...Well I guess the shit's so!...

"Remember that day I came home from classes and our fifty dollar, used TV broke?...... We couldn't afford to get it fixed much less buy a new one. You were out in the kitchen with that stupid little plastic clothes washer that you had to crank by hand! You were washing our clothes....one item at a time!......You were wearing that cute little pink tank top and your denim shorts. You were walking around out there, barefoot, and hanging clothes up on a line that you had zigzagged all over the room. And you were just humming 'n' singing away!...

"Oh shit, Keep! You have no idea how bad I just wanted to go out and buy you a washer 'n' dryer and pay cash for it! The hell with a car, or motorbike or fancy clothes! I just wanted to get you a new washer 'n' dryer! It really hurt me I couldn't do that little bit for you!...

"...No......Lots of these kids today couldn't function without their cars and video games and clothes and......world cruises! I'll help Timmy......but I'm not going to do for him! As we said in the navy, he's going to come up through the hawsehole! He's going to know what it takes to put that shiny car in the driveway! It's not going to be handed to him!"

Ayumi went for the coffee maker and poured the last of the coffee into her mug. She turned and leaned against the counter.

"...So......will you have a talk with him?..."

"...Well, yeah! As soon as I find a smooth transition into it."

She smiled as she made her way back.

"...That could take months!"

"Well how do you open a conversation like that?"

"...Just let him know we support him, okay? He's got to know he's not sick or that he has some kind of problem!"

Ken placed the palm of his hand on Matt's folder.

"...These poor little kids...

"...No Kipi......I'm not going to keep the boys apart....It'll probably just cause problems. I keep thinking of their little friends out there, those two...umm..."

"Scooter and Toby?"

"Yeah! They're keeping them apart. Like that's going to do anything? Keep 'em apart and they'll both turn straight?! Do people really believe this shit today?"

"Ohhhh yeah! I've seen plenty of it!......Remember that little....umm.... Chris in California? The one who's parents moved from New York State to keep him away from his boyfriend?"

"That cute little guy that hung himself?....Oh!"

He gripped his sides and shivered.

"Ken! I don't want that to be Timmy OR Matty!"

"No!....No! I rather have a live gay boy than a dead one! He's a good kid, Keep. And little Matty too! They're both great! They're both quiet, but they're very mature for their age. Other than video games and those monster movies, they aren't like many of their peers.

"When you told me about them in the tent......How Tim said they talked about things. You don't see that today. Kids just do! They don't put much thought into anything! Yup.... I guess I've had my suspicions all along. But it's like I say, they were made for each other! I think they're trying to understand all this. It's gotta be hard, Keep. Put yourself in their position. All these feelings they're having. And kinda knowing that society frowns on that sort of thing. It's gotta be tough...

"...And he said they cried?"

"...Ohhh yeah!......That's the part that kinda choked me up. You could kinda tell from his story that they were just totally exhausted when everything finally came out. Those poor little guys trying to figure all this out by themselves...

"...Kenny......If you have a hard time with this....talking to them....At least let them know the door is open! Let them know they're not alone. All these sites I've been on....The parents feel alone......What about the kids?......It's gotta be very difficult! Just let them know the door is open and that we support them!"

It was here that the phone rang. Ayumi went for the counter and drew the phone from the wall.

"Hello?......Cynthia! Long time no see....or hear for that matter......Oh no! I'm not doing a thing but sippin' a coffee out here in the kitchen......I told you I'd be honest with you! No! I'm not busy.......And no! Matty's no problem at all. In fact they ran off on their bikes today. They're probably climbing trees out in the park or whatever they do!...

"Oh yes. I e-mailed that stir-fry recipe to you......It's not exactly Korean or even Chinese. It's Japanese! Just keep the heat real low. It gives the vegetables more time to cook through. Absolutely delicious!...

"Oh Cynthia! We're planning a little dinner. It's sort of a little celebration for the boys. It's on us! We're just so happy about their certificates! Yes! Matt with his public speaking and Tim with tutoring! We were just talking about them. Ken says those two were just made for each other! This is beyond a dream come true!..."

As Ayumi heard the boys enter the back door, she made her way into the dining room, flashing Ken a silly smile and a wave as she continued to talk on the phone.

"...Dad!......You're home!"

"Yup!......And I told the boss I'm here for the next month! I really hate being on the road like this so much."

"...Umm......We thought we'd come in for a snack....'er something."

"Have at it!"

Tim and Matt made their way around the kitchen, helping themselves to milk and pie. Ken saw them casting cautious glances at each other. He picked up Matt's report.

"I read your report here, Matty. I sure hope you get up there next week and really give 'em hell!......And I agree with Ayumi that you should show these pictures too! I think lots of parents need to see this stuff. Oh! Terrible stuff...

"...You'd umm....never consider any of this stuff yourself, would you?"

Matt couldn't find words as he slid into the bench seat opposite Ken. Tim slid into the seat beside Matt. He tossed his plate down and dropped his fork with a clatter.

"...Dad......Mom said she was going to talk to you today......So why don't we just cut the crap and get down to what whatever you wanna say!..."

"Oh!....Subtle!..."

"...Look Dad......There's no sense in us going on like this. Me 'n' Matty are gay! Okay? I'm admitting it! We both are! We didn't choose to be like this, it's..."

"What you are!"

The interruption had caught Tim by surprise.

"...Yeah..."

"...You know......I don't even know where to begin with this...

"I guess the best place is that none of this changes how we feel about you. And being honest......No. I don't like it......but it's what you are and nothing's going to change that. It's not your....well feelings for each other. You mother and I worry about the people out there!"

"...Well, we're trying! We're in the GSA at school and we're really trying. It's awful hard to change people's minds when you've got assholes out there like Mr. Shelby!"

"And who would that be?"

"Scooter's father!"

"Scooter!......of Scooter 'n' Toby fame?"

"...Yeah! He broke them apart! They can't see each other anymore! Because Toby's turning Scooter into a fag!"

"Is that so?"

"Well, that's what he claims!"

"...And you're thinking that's what we're going to do to you?"

"...I don't know what to expect from people anymore...

"Dad!......I didn't want to be gay! I didn't..."

"choose to be!"

"Right......I was only out to myself a little over a year ago! Parents think they raised..."

"their kids wrong."

"Mr. Shelby thinks if he keeps Scooter away from Toby..."

"he'll turn straight again."

"Yeah!......And Scooter was really depressed! He didn't think he wanted to go on! We really thought he was going to..."

"do something crazy?....commit suicide?"

"Well, yeah! If me 'n' Matty were taken apart......I'd flip, Dad! I know it! I'd go right over the edge! I couldn't function without Matty!"

"No! And I doubt he'd function without you!......That's why we'd never do that! You two were made for each other. I told your mom that several times...

"Look at the both of you!......You've known each other for what?....seven months now? You've both gone from shy quiet boys all the way up to getting certificates of achievement!...

"Your teachers don't call up to tell us what kind of trouble your in......They tell us how great you are and how you can become even greater! Most teachers wouldn't bother to take the time! Matty turned you around! And you've helped Matt in return. You're a good kid! Well, both of you are. And Matty you're always welcome here. You're just about a member of the family! You boys just don't know how proud we are of the both of you!

"I've read-up on all this, boys. I guess I've always had my suspicions. And parents are told not to be negative in front of their kids. Well, I'm just being honest with you. The only thing that concerns me are those people out there! I guess that sounds like I'm telling you not to flaunt it!......And I guess that's what it means, huh? It's not that we're embarrassed or anything like that....It's your safety!"

Cynthia had finished her conversation with Ayumi and made her way to Matt's computer.

"I can't wait to try that stir-fry recipe. I can save it, but Matt will have to print it out for me. I wouldn't even attempt it."

As she checked to be sure it had saved, she noticed several files Matt had saved.

"...Stories?......I wonder if he's trying to write stories?......Suicide?....GSA Reports.... Coming Out?....Young and Gay?......Parents of gay Children?....What are all these things?"

After several files were opened, she had scrolled quickly through them.

"Oh dear!....Oh dear!......Gay Romance?....These are boys....Doing things?!

Back in the Webster's kitchen, Ken appeared to have finished talking. The boys stared down at their plates. Ken was surprised as he saw Matt reach over and squeeze the back of Tim's hand on the table. He sighed.

"...We really want to help you Matt. Ayumi says your father is a bit homophobic."

"...No. Not a bit......LOTS! I just know he's not going to go along with this..."

"Well, we'll just have to take this slowly. I just want to tell you both, you haven't done anything wrong, okay?......You not sick or broken! You don't need curing or fixing!...

"...Now we're going out next Saturday night to celebrate! You boys worked hard to get those certificates. You might think they're only pieces of paper. They're not! It's what they represent! Ayumi and I are just sooo proud of the both of you!......And your folks are coming along, Matt. Now I'll try to get your dad aside here and there. I'll ask him questions. I'll see if I can't influence him a bit......And I want your photos here! You be sure to bring them along. I want to show him what intolerance is doing. And I'll be honest....I want them for shock effect! I want to get him thinking...

"Now I'm not going to....what do you kids say?....Out you! We'll take it slow 'n' easy. And I think I'll even try to get us all at the next GSA meeting."

"Ha!" Matt flipped, "He won't have anything to do with going to a fag club! You'll never get him in there. I'm surprised he even lets me go as an ally!......Well, what he thinks is an ally. Well, I won't say he likes to hear about kids getting beat up. He really doesn't like bullying. He thinks gays are doing what they do because they chose it! Because they like it!"

"...Well, boys......I've got the next week off from work. I'll have to do some work on the computer everyday, but I don't have to actually go into the office. I'll see what I can do..."

A few minutes later, Matt and Tim set their plates into the sink. Ken had gone into the dining room to check his daily planner. It was a simple non-electronic notebook. He took the advantage of the excuse to eavesdrop on the boys. They said little.

He glanced in as Matt neared the back door. He turned to face Tim with a sad, frightened expression. They didn't seem to be speaking. Both reached out to each other in a deep hug. Their chins pressed to each others shoulders. Both pulled away, wiping their eyes on their sleeves. Matt soon turned out. Tim went silently for his room allowing the door to remain open. He turned on his computer.

Matt parked his bike in the garage. He made his way to the back door. He'd wanted to return home and start his homework. Also, he'd become very self-conscious at the Webster's. He recalled Scooter from earlier that day.

"I think he's gonna be all right. He seemed lots happier today. Well, lots better than that first time we saw him out there...

"Oh shit, I sure hope me 'n' Timmy don't have to meet out there in secret. I wonder what's going on with Scooter and Toby......I wonder what Tim's mother is doing about that..."

He enter the back door of his house and into the kitchen. His mother sat at the table. She still wore the light green sales jacket from the local supermarket. Instantly an ominous feeling fell over him.

"...Matthew, I want you to sit down here..."

"Oh boy!......She found something out......Here we go!"

"...I saved a recipe from Ayumi on the computer. And I checked to see that it went through and saved correctly before deleting her e-mail.

"...Now I don't want you to think I've been snooping, but I found some files on your computer that I think need explaining..."

He sat down, silent.

"...Now I can understand the GSA folder. I understand all your research work. What I don't understand are some of the stories I saw on there....The Night We Danced?....The Kiss After Midnight?....It's Only Love?....Mom I Love Him?....My Angel?!...."

"Oh boy! You stupid dork!......You wanted to save time and not use a password protected flash drive. Here we go!"

"...Matthew, I know what those stories are about. Their about boys!....not girls and boys! Boys hugging and kissing....and....touching each other! I....I was shocked! I never thought you'd read anything like that."

Matt shrugged.

"...It's not like they're dirty! There's no sex in 'em. I think they're cute."

"...Cute?!....There may not be anything graphic in there, but it's certainly implied!...

"Matthew......Are you gay?..."

He looked down at the table in silence for awhile.

"...Yeah," he said, barely audible, "I'm gay..."

His mother placed her elbows on the table and covered her face with her hands. It was a full minute before she could continue.

"...Matthew......You're growing up still. You body is still reaching an equilibrium. You're going to experience all kinds of different feelings. Lots of kids your age go through this....this experimental stage. It's nothing to be embarrassed about. You....you..."

"Mom," he said a bit louder, "I'm gay! This isn't some experiment! ...Okay?"

"No it's NOT okay!......You're....you're just a bit confused right now. This will all pass."

"No it won't Mom!" Matt nearly yelled, "It's not going away! It's never going to go away.

"Mom!......I do research for the club. I've read all this stuff. First you say I'm confused. Then you're going to say, 'How can you be sure?' Then you'll claim it's a phase! I read all about this. You're going to start out in a stage of denial. I denied this for a year! When I was twelve, I knew. It wasn't until I reached thirteen that I accepted it! I didn't want to be gay, Mom! I didn't want to admit it even to myself!......In fact....I think I always somehow knew! It's not something I decided on!"

"...No!....You're just way too young to understand these things."

"...Mom......How old were you when you sat down and decided you were straight?! Didn't you just somehow always know? Did you make a conscious decision that you were going to like boys and not girls? Did you choose, Mom? Did you really have to think about it?! It's not a choice! It's what you are!......I'm not experimenting!....This isn't a stage!....I should know what I am."

"...Oh dear....Now I'm going to have to call Mrs. Webster and tell her all this..."

"...No you don't......She already knows!......She didn't say anything to you because she said this was private. This is something I have to do. I'm glad it's all out now."

"You told her before you told me?!"

"No!......I never said anything. And neither did Timmy! It was an accident. She caught us kissing in the garage."

"You....you....kissed him?!.....Oh! Ugh!......Now we brought you up better than that!"

"And that's the next stage, Mom......'What did we do wrong?' You didn't do anything! It's got nothing to do with it...

"...Mom......you really have to come to one of our meetings! You've gotta talk to the other parents there. Right now you think you're all alone in this. There's a big support group out there. And not just for us kids. There's people there for you too."

"Oh!....I'd be so embarrassed in there!"

"People don't have to know that......They might think you're there just as support. To help stop all the hate!....the bullying...

"Mr. and Mrs. Webster I think kinda knew. It still wasn't easy for them. But the only thing they worried about were the people out there! As they called it. They're scared of all the homophobes! All the people out there that think we're sick or abnormal! What about it, Mom? Are you one of them that they're afraid of?"

He gathered up his notebook and envelope of photos.

"I've got to work on my presentation now. I'll be in my room. I think I've got to rewrite some of my ideas. I guess they were all wrong!"

"Well you just be quiet about all this!......And don't you dare tell your father a thing!"

Minutes later Mr. Meadows stepped into the door and hung up his jacket.

"...Hey Hon?......Cindy?......Remember I was telling you that Jack was being awful moody lately. Really touchy?......Well guess what we found out tonight?....His kid's a fag!"

Matt gazed at his computer monitor. He drew his sleeve down to the back of his hand and wiped the tears from his eyes.

It was Tuesday morning as Ayumi paced the kitchen floor. Tim had told her what had happened between Matt and his mother.

"Oh dear....Oh dear......I've got to call her! What do I say?....How do I even begin? I don't want her to think we've been keeping this from her. It's just....it really didn't concern us! This was something personal, concerning Matt..."

She reached for the phone and went to the nook to sit. She pressed a programed number.

"Oh dear!....Oh dear! I've just got to get this over with. I certainly hope she's not offended by it."

"Hello!......Cynthia......It's Ayumi......Oh fine! Really!......Umm....and you?...

"...Yes......Yes......Yes, Tim told us all about it......That's the reason I'm calling...

"...Cynthia, I certainly hope you understand this. It's not something I could call you up on....as though we were discussing the weather or something......I realize this is very important to all of us but Matt had to do this on his own. Yes, I heard about the computer and the gay romance novels...

"...Cynthia......I had Tim show me this site. Now I'm not trying to tell you what's appropriate for Matt to be reading, but I read some of these stories......And they're not dirty! Okay, they have some strong language in them, but it's nothing you don't hear in any high school today. I'm going to send you an e-mail with two stories on it......Well they'll be links to the stories. They'll take to directly to the site and to the titles. Read them in order. The first one.... now it's gay, but well......I'll say it!......It's a romantic comedy! It's hilarious! I laughed out loud!....I really did! It's about two young, klutzy, shy boys that are just head-over-heels in love with each other! There's no sex. Nothing dirty. You may not agree with me, but it's cute!......Now the other one....Oh dear....It's sad! In fact, it's one of the saddest stories I've ever read......Not that it doesn't have it's up parts, but even the happy parts will make you cry. I swear, I went through what was left of the tissues in the box....I had to go out and get a roll of paper towels! It was really heartrending! But I'll tell you, it has a happy ending...

"...Umm....Ken and I vowed at a very early age, that we'd never become so inflexible or narrow-minded as our parents were. I think we've really been put to the test here. And, yes, this is difficult......But none of us can change any of this! Nobody really understands this. It's just a fact of life. Now you do understand that Matt has no control over this?...

"...Yes......Yes......Well, no....It doesn't make it easier. But we have to support them. Now Ken and I are going to that big GSA meeting next week. Why don't you and Richard join us? Matt's going to give his presentation....And I'll tell you right now, it's going to be great! Did he show you his report?...... You've got to read it! And the photos! Oh my God! All those sweet little kids being bullied and beat up. All those attempted suicides! I hope you don't have a weak stomach. I see lots of that right in the ER. It really hurts! Maybe that's why I'm a bit more tolerant about this sort of thing than others. I see too much hate out there! Way too much intolerance. We really want to go to one of those meetings. I don't believe Tim will be having too much to do about it. He'll be kind of Matt's support staff. Oh! Those boys are wonderful! Ken has said it from day one....Those two were made for each other! We're so proud of them both. Matt's just no problem at all! He's wonderful!...

"I've already told you we were going to call in professional help for Timmy. He was just so much of a loner....so shy. Matty was a godsend for us! They get along sooo well. They never argue about anything......Oh! Don't get me wrong! They can get very competitive when it comes to those video games!....But.... overall, they're very mature. They talk a lot...

"...Cynthia......When Tim and I had that....talk......He told me about him and Matt sort of coming out to each other this summer......I guess when everything was said and done....he said they just held each other and cried!......Oh, I started tearing-up myself. You had to be here! They literally cried themselves to sleep! They were just exhausted! They're good boys, Cynthia! And I told them both....well, the next morning....that they hadn't done anything wrong! I hope you don't mind me saying that. I see too much death and hate. I've tried to help with these suicides...

"We had a boy come in, back in California....He'd hung himself in his garage. He was gay. Everyone turned their back on him!....Right when he needed it most! We had him on life support for three days!....We had to discontinue....No brain activity. Everyone sort of left the room and I couldn't stop looking at his face. You hear it a lot....He looked peaceful. All I could think of is that he's in a better place. I don't believe that they go to hell! Killing yourself is murder?......I don't think your in your right mind when you do something like that. I think it's forgiven! All I could think of was not just the death, but how he went out....so lonely....feeling so unloved. I just wonder what some of these kids are thinking when they do something like that. I didn't want Tim and Matt to start thinking like that...

"Please Cynthia......You and Richard just have to come to that meeting with us!..."

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