The Journey

Chapter 20

By Sunshine Boy

Dan was feeling a sense of relief as he drove home. His conversation with Beau had been wonderfully successful. Now all he had to do was talk to his parents and then hopefully Sam's.

Dan pulled up at his house and started walking around to the back door. As he passed the living room window he heard his mother and father arguing and he knew something was wrong.

Dan opened the door and stepped inside and the argument suddenly stopped. They were both in the other room and Dan heard his mother whisper, "he's home."

Dan's dad rounded the corner. He had a smile on his face that hopelessly failed to hide the concern in his eyes.


"What's wrong?" Dan asked.

"I think we need to talk, meet me in the truck?"

Dan nodded and stumbled out the door and back to the truck, his heart was racing. He walked back out to the truck and sat in the passenger seat. A moment later his father got in; he had an envelope with him.

"What's wrong dad?"

"Don't worry, your mother just needs some time that's all."

"Time for what?"

Frank McKinnon started his truck and looked over at his son.

"Where are we going?"

"I never told you much about my childhood, at least not what mattered." He sighed as he put the truck in gear. "I regret very much that I didn't tell you but I think it's not too late."

"You have to tell me what's going on dad." Dan demanded.

Frank McKinnon sighed. He passed the envelope to his son as he turned off onto the highway.

"This letter arrived in the mail today." He said.

'Dear Mr / Mrs. McKinnon,

My name is Becky Maxwell, I'm the Aunt of Sam Maxwell, a boy your son traveled with across BC.'

Dan skimmed through the intro.

>'The reason I'm writing this letter is because of the relationship that I fear your son may have with our nephew. We had suspected for some time before he told us that he is a homosexual. We had hoped that simply spending time outdoors away from the internet and doing the kind of things that real boys do would cure him. We fear that this may not be the case although we can't be sure. When we found out that he spent almost a month exclusively with your son we were naturally very concerned, let me assure you that we had no idea that that would happen. Please discuss this with your son; we're very sorry for having unintentionally exposed your son to this. Sam understands of course that your son will no longer be interested in a friendship but we thought perhaps Dan would like to convey that to him personally before we tell him about this letter."

Dan put down the letter; he'd read enough. "What the fuck?!?"

"So?" Frank McKinnon asked.

"So what?"

"Do you like him?"

"Yes." Dan responded without thought. "I want to talk to him."

"I know you do. I phoned his house before you got home. He's fine, he doesn't know anything about this letter."

"What's wrong with them?"

"I don't know, I can't explain his family. They want to put him in counselling if they find out that he's still gay."

"What about me? Do you want to put me in counselling?"

"Why do you think we'd want to do that?"

"Because Sam's gay and his Aunt and Uncle are going to do that, and I'm gay so maybe…"

"No. Being gay isn't a disease or a disorder. Medicine has evolved since Sam's Aunt and Uncle looked in on it; they don't use stone knives or leeches anymore, and they treat gay people as people. This is why I want to talk to you, why I regret that I didn't years ago."

Dan sat quiet, his mind spinning.

"I told you that when I was your age Tom and I took jobs as chairlift operators at Lake Louise but I never told you why." Mr. McKinnon took a deep breath and squeezed the steering wheel. "Tom and I were very much in love. We'd met in school and had developed a very close relationship. However it was the early 70's and that sort of thing was very taboo. My father would never have understood and neither would Tom's. So when Tom got offered this job he managed to get a position for me too, it was perfect. We were alone together; we shared our own room in the worker's quarters in the lodge. Just me and Tom in each other's arms all night." Dan's dad sighed. "Everything seemed so perfect winter just flew by and suddenly we were a week away from being kicked out of the lodge for the summer. They didn't want us to live there in the off-season. Tom and I decided to rent a small place in Banff. It was rather expensive but we managed. It was while I was living there that I met your mom. I never thought it possible but for some reason I liked her a lot, like actually physically and emotionally. The problem of course was that I was already committed to Tom but also after some discrete questioning I learned that your mother was very set in her beliefs and would never have understood if I had told her the relationship I had with Tom. So I talked to Tom about it, I explained that for the first time ever I actually felt something for a woman but that I would never act on those feelings because I cared so much for him. I only told him that to reassure him. Unfortunately for me, Tom loved me at least as much as I did him and that summer he gave me a gift, something so valuable that I could never pay him back. He dumped me. I was so hurt and so angry and I didn't understand why. I wanted to die.

But later on I realized that he hadn't dumped me because he didn't have feelings for me, he dumped me so that I could have a better life, a more socially acceptable life. Once we were separated he told your mother that he's gay, mostly to test her reaction. It wasn't good, it took me probably 3 months before she'd accept that I still wanted to talk to him and that he wasn't going to rape me or something silly. Don't get me wrong, your mother is a wonderful woman and I love her very much but when it comes to this one issue she's very... set in her ways." Dan's dad had to pause and consider his words carefully. He knew that his wife would have a hard time adapting to having a gay son and he knew that that would be difficult for his son as well so the last thing he wanted to do was say something stupid and open a rift between mother and son that would never heal. "When we had you she made me promise that I'd never tell you about Tom, she felt that if you never were exposed to gay people then you never would be one. I didn't mind because I thought what are the chances?"

"Will she accept me?"

"In time, give her time." Frank McKinnon looked ahead down the highway at the long stretch before him. Nothing was said for a good 20 minutes.

"He's amazing dad."

"Good, I want you to be happy, and I want you to be who you want to be."

The sun was getting lower; there was only about 45 minutes of daylight left.

"Where are we going?" Dan asked again.

"You'll see."

Frank McKinnon parked the truck in the lot at the base of the Château Lake Louise. An hour and a half had gone by since they'd left the house not a lot had been said during the drive. Mr. McKinnon got out with his son and they walked the east shore of the lake. After a few minutes Dan recognized where they were. They came to a boulder next to the water; Dan recognized the location as the same as the one in the picture of Tom and his dad standing together when they were kids.

"Your mother took that picture." Mr. McKinnon said knowing that his son had seen it in the backpack. He knelt down and brushed the dirt away from the boulder and Dan could clearly see the heart carved into the stone with the letters F and T and the year (72).


"Hello mam, this is Dan McKinnon. Yes. Yes I do. I'd like to do it in private, sure. I was thinking I'd pick him up and we'd go somewhere to talk about this. Yes. Sounds good, I'll be there." Dan hung up the phone, he hated Sam's Aunt; even her voice pissed him off.

Dan drove his Mom's old car, she'd bought a new one while he was on vacation but she still had the 1985 Toyota so she let Dan use it when he wanted. Sam got in the car, "what's going on? Aunt Becky said you had something very important to talk to me about." Sam said with concern.

Dan drove away from the house. He handed Sam the letter on the way. Sam was silent as he read. After a while Dan glanced over and saw Sam crying. "So, I don't understand. You don't want to be around me?"

"No." Dan pulled the car over and put his arms around Sam and squeezed him tight. "If I left you I would die." He whispered. "I love you more than you will know, there is no way I'd ever leave you Sam. Where would you get a silly idea like that? I'm just as gay as your are, baby I love you." He whispered and hung on tight. After a moment Sam whispered back. "I love you too Dan."

A few minutes later Dan drove on. He stopped at his house. His parents weren't home, (it was a weekday.) so he let Sam in and they sat together on Dan's bed.

"We need a plan. I talked to dad; he says he can't afford another son in the house. You'll have to live with your Aunt and Uncle for now. So I was thinking you could go back there today and pretend that I dumped you. Tell them exactly what they want to hear. Then at least they'll think your straight."

"That shouldn't be a problem, but when will we see each other?"

"School I guess."

"That's almost a month."

"We have the internet in the mean time. It's going to be hard but we can do it." Dan put his arm around Sam and squeezed his far shoulder encouragingly.

"I'll try Dan, but it's just so hard being without you."

"I know baby, I love you so much; I want to be with you all the time and when I'm not it's like I'm empty. You have my phone number Sam, you know where I live, and you have my e-mail. Talk to me; call me any hour of the day no matter what's on your mind large or small. I will always be there for you Sam and you're never a bother."

"Thanks Dan, I understand."

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