The Move

by Doug Smith

Chapter 41

10:45 – Josh and Dan

'Shit,' I thought as the guy walk toward us. I hadn't meant to cause problems. I was just in a good mood and having fun. It felt really good being out of the hospital and I was enjoying myself. I probably wasn't thinking. There weren't many people around and those that were didn't seem to have noticed or be bothered by anything we were doing. Why did this guy have to come over? Did he just enjoy causing a scene? At least his wife wasn't with him. She would really cause a scene. I don't know where she went. Probably to complain to the manager about the deviants he allows in his restaurant.

The strange thing was I couldn't tell if the guy was pissed or not. He didn't really look upset. He almost looked nervous. He wasn't walking quickly. He also didn't look like someone about to get into it with someone. After our encounter with him and his wife I couldn't imagine what else he could want though. I know it was his wife who caused trouble in the grocery store but he was right there too. Okay, I know what you're thinking. I know I didn't do anything to help matters then or now but Josh and I didn't do anything wrong then or now. She's just got a stick up her ass and while her husband didn't really do anything he didn't do anything to stop her either.

I can't believe that was only two, no, three weeks ago. A lot has happened since then... being in the hospital for one. That can definitely make you lose track of time. I shrugged when Josh looked at me with a now you've done it look. I knew he wasn't happy to see the guy but there wasn't much we could do to avoid a confrontation now. I smiled when Josh smirked shaking his head and rolling his eyes. He knew what I was thinking. He looked different from he usually did too. He still looked apprehensive but he also looked determined. He acted differently too. Normally he'd back away to avoid confrontation. He'd let me take the lead and I'd always put myself between him and any potential problem. This time it was reversed. He had a 'don't fuck with us' look on his face and was ready to confront the guy if necessary. I smiled when he put his hand over mine. God how I love him. Despite the guy coming over just the touch of his hand gave me that tingling sensation only he gives me. Even Dan Jr. was feeling aroused.

"Excuse me, boys. I don't know if you remember me. I..."

"We remember you," said Josh. "What do you want? We don't want any trouble."

'Wow,' I thought hearing the tone in his voice. Was this Josh saying that? He sounded much more confident and assertive than he'd been before I got hurt. I couldn't help but smile. Our eyes met and he knew I noticed. We had that unspoken communication thing going on I've noticed my parents have. They can say a lot to each other with just a look. It's like they can read each other's minds. It felt good thinking Josh and I were becoming like that too. It also felt good when he moved slightly to his left putting him between me and the guy. I don't think anyone else would have noticed but I did. That simple act made me feel really good. No wonder I love him so much.

"No, please, you don't understand. I'm not looking for trouble. I just want to talk. I was hoping you can help me. Can I sit down?"

That caught us both by surprise and Josh gave me a questioning look. He still looked uneasy but did seem to relax. We both wanted to know what this was all about. I know I was curious.

"I guess so. How can we possibly help you? Where's your wife anyway? Won't she be pissed if she sees you with us? What do you want?"

"It's okay. She went to meet our daughter at their church. She got a call about some type of emergency. There was a fire last night."

"That's too bad."

"She told me the name but I don't remember. It was someone from the church. She knows how I feel about anything to do with that place. I refuse to go. Maybe it makes me a bad person but if she and her friends want to help someone in need then that's great but I don't want to associate with people like that. Anyway, I don't think she saw you guys sitting here. What happened to you anyway? Did you get in a fight?"

It was still difficult to talk. People I knew could understand me but I still couldn't talk all that well. I'm not sure how the waitress understood everything I said. I really didn't want to explain what happened to this guy though.

"I'll be fine. We were just getting ready to leave. What do you want?"

That probably came out more abrupt than I meant but I didn't have a clue what the guy wanted. I assumed it was something to do with how we were acting, but he didn't seem pissed off. He looked more worried.

"Maybe this was a mistake. I remembered you from the store when I saw you over here. I thought you might have some ideas to help me. I have a problem and I assumed since you two are..."

"Gay?" asked Josh.

"Yes, gay. I assumed or was hoping because of that you could help me. I need someone to talk to."

That was definitely not what we'd been expecting. Josh gave me a puzzled look. I thought back to the night his wife got on our case. He hadn't said anything but he did say a couple odd things after Lt. Henderson got his wife to quiet down. I'd also thought he checked both Josh and I out a little and wondered about him. The thought he was a perv had crossed my mind.

"How can we help you? Why should we? It's obvious what you think of us. You and your wife."

"Actually you're wrong. I tried to tell you that the other night. My wife definitely thinks being gay is wrong. She believes the whole load of crap her church preaches about being gay being an abomination, that you're going to hell and all that shit. I don't think that way. To be honest, I admire you."

I was stunned. Josh and I both had dumbfounded looks on our faces. We looked at each other not quite knowing where this was going.

"We assumed that's how you thought too," said Josh. "Why would you admire us? We're just a couple of high school kids."

"Let me explain. First, the garbage that church preaches? That's my wife's thinking, not mine. Don't get me wrong. My wife is a good person. There isn't anything she wouldn't do for her daughters or grandchildren. She does volunteer work and in all other regards is a fine person. Her involvement with that church which is more like a cult in my opinion is the problem. She's bought into their rhetoric and can't accept anything else. It's caused a lot of problems between us but that's not why I'm here. I guess it's kind of related but this isn't about me or her."

"I assume you mean that whacko church everyone talks about. We obviously won't argue with you there, but why do you admire us?"

He smiled. "Maybe it's more envy. You're obviously gay and are seemingly okay with that. I just think it's good you aren't afraid to be yourselves. Too many people hide it and are miserable. Not many people were open about being gay when I was your age. In fact that word didn't even mean the same thing. Being gay simply meant being happy and excited or exuberant. It didn't have anything to do with people being attracted to people of the same sex. A lot of words were used to describe homosexuals but gay wasn't one of them."

"We normally don't try to be so obvious," said Josh giving me a frown. "Sometimes someone gets carried away."

The guy actually laughed. "Yeah, I saw you eating that sausage and the look you gave him," he said, looking first at me and then at Josh. "My wife didn't see you, thank God. I couldn't help but smile. I thought other things too, but you don't want to hear about that."

I wondered what he meant by that. He obviously knew I was flirting with Josh and teasing him about sucking him. I guess all guys like to be sucked. This guy included, although the thought of his wife sucking him made me shiver. It also made me laugh… to myself of course. The image of his wife going down on him flashed in my head. Thinking about the guy's cock was bad enough but thinking about his wife doing that gave me a momentary feeling of nausea. The way the guy was looking at us made me think he wasn't talking about his wife sucking him however. I swear I caught him check me out.

"So what do you want from us? She's your wife."

"It isn't her so much as my daughter. She's like her mother. She goes to that church and believes everything they say as well. Her husband too. It amazes me how they can read the Bible and that's their major takeaway when, in my opinion, there's so much contradiction, interpretation and reinterpretation it's impossible to know. And besides, the Bible was written by man. Saying everything in it is God's word is pretty naive at best."

This wasn't at all what I expected from this guy. I still didn't know what he wanted but nothing he said seemed negative. Josh was looking at me with an equally confused look on his face.

"Okay, we certainly agree with you but that doesn't explain what you want from us. How can we help you?"

"Well, I was hoping you being gay could help me with a problem. Maybe just talking about it will help. You see, my daughter just learned her fourteen year-old son is gay ...or confused and giving into temptation, if you listen to her. She found out he and his friend have been doing things... things definitely not in accordance with my daughter's or her husband's thinking."

Josh and I looked at each other. We both knew who he was talking about. How many gay fourteen year olds whose family goes to that church could there be? Probably more than one but how many whose parents just found out about them could there be?

"I love my grandson. I think he's too young to really know whether he's gay or not, but I don't care who he loves as long as he's happy. My wife and daughter, along with my son-in-law, have different ideas. They all think it's evil and perverted. That's what they hear all the time at church and that's how they live their lives."

"Are you talking about Danny?"

"You know him? How do you know my grandson?"

"He lives across the street from me," said Josh. "Or at least where I used to live. Both he and Nicky are in Dan's karate course."

"Don't ask," I said when he looked at me. I knew what he was thinking.

"Sorry," he said. "I'd hate to see the other guy if you look like that."

"The other guy does look pretty bad but I didn't do it. Josh did. You're really Danny's grandfather?"

"Yes, and I'm worried about him."

"He's okay isn't he? We talked to Nicky and he hasn't seen him since last week. He's really broken up about things. He said Danny doesn't answer his phone or email. We were going by to see if we could see him."

"That wouldn't be a good idea. It would just make things worse."

"I understand that. I was hoping he'd be outside and we could talk to him. I wouldn't want to make things worse. It's already my fault he told his parents."

"Why is it your fault?"

I explained how Danny and I are friends and how he got mad when his parents said I deserved what happened to me. He was confused until I told him about Phil.

"That explains it. I was wondering how they found out. It also explains a lot of the things they've been saying. You definitely shouldn't go by his house. He won't be outside anyway. His parents won't let him leave his room let alone the house. He can come out to eat and to meet with that minister from the church. That's it. Other than that they're making him stay in his room without Internet access or his phone."

"Oh man, poor Danny. Are they trying to make him hate them? What are they trying to accomplish?"

"They're having him meet one on one with the reverend from their church. He's counseling him to make him see the error of his ways. At least that's what they call it."

"You mean brainwash him."

"I've tried talking to them but they won't listen. They think he's just misguided and has bad influences in his life. Now it makes sense why they said 'he's to blame'. They must have been talking about you."

I shook my head. "I know for a fact Danny and Nicky were together long before I met them. I can only imagine what that minister is telling him."

"That guy is more like a cult leader if you ask me. He's weird. I don't trust him. I heard my daughter and wife talking. They're thinking about sending him to a church-affiliated school. They also want him to stand up in front of the church and admit he was doing evil. I don't know what to do. They won't let me talk to him. The only time I've seen him is when I go over with my wife and that's when everyone is there. He looks so sad. It breaks my heart."

"That's abuse. Poor Danny."

"You may think that, and I may think that, but unfortunately they're within their rights. They aren't physically harming him. They aren't shirking their parental responsibilities. He's being fed. He's..."

"You make it sound like he's simply being grounded for talking back or something. Making him stand up in front of a church of hateful people and talking about something so personal is cruel. It isn't right."

"I know, but what can I do? I thought about going there and taking him but what good would that do? Where would I take him? Even if I did, my daughter and her husband would just send the police after me and they'd be within their rights."

"It's still not right. What can we do?"

"I don't know. I don't even know why I came over. I just saw you here and was hoping. I haven't been able to talk about this with anyone. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have bothered you."

"No, no, it's okay. We're glad you did. Danny is our friend. I can't help feeling responsible. Nicky told me how Danny's parents found out. They had heard about me getting hurt and told Danny he couldn't come to karate any more. They wanted him to say I molested him. I promise you I haven't. I'd never do that. But from what Nicky said they pushed more and more. The more they pushed the madder Danny got and things blew up."

"Wow, now a lot more is making sense. I'm not sure making sense is the right way to say it, but at least I'm connecting some dots. How is Danny's friend?"

"He's pretty upset of course. Your son-in-law called his parents and told them. They had no idea. They haven't handled things very well either. Maybe not as bad as Danny's parents, but nonetheless, it hasn't been easy. On top of that he's worried about Danny. They really do love each other."

"I've seen them together. It was obvious they are good friends but I never imagined this. Thinking back, I guess I shouldn't be surprised. They were obviously close."

"Danny is a good kid," said Josh. "He and I used to throw a ball around and talk. I never knew he was gay though. It never occurred to me knowing how religious his family is. I was more worried about him finding out about me. I wish I had known, not that I could have done any good."

The waitress came back and asked if we wanted anything else. She wasn't hurrying us since the restaurant had thinned out. She just left the bill on the table and gave the customary 'take your time, there's no hurry.'

"Have you seen him? Have you talked to him?" I asked.

"I've gone to their house and have seen him, but haven't talked to him. Mainly I haven't known what to say, but like I said, I haven't had an opportunity to speak with him alone. My daughter or son-in-law are always nearby. They know I disagree with what they're doing, and I don't want to give them reason for not letting me see my grandson. I love him."

"He needs to know his friends haven't forgotten him. I have an idea if you're willing."

"What? I'm ready to try anything."

"Is there a way you can slip him a prepaid cell phone? That way he could at least communicate with his friends and you. He'll know he isn't alone."

"I don't know. There would be hell to pay if my daughter found out. He'd probably feel better if he knew at least one family member was on his side and that some people still love him though. Let me think about it."

"Alright but remember what he's going through. His only contact is with people who think like your wife and your daughter. Is that what you want? We've told him he may or may not be gay. He's young and doesn't have to label himself. But if he is - and I believe he is - then there is nothing he can do about it. Despite what your wife and daughter may believe, he didn't choose to like boys. What will happen to him if he's forced to be something he isn't? He needs to know people like your wife and daughter are wrong."

"Alright, I'll do it. I know you're right. I'll pick up another phone and add it to my plan. That way he can use it as a mobile hotspot too. For some reason they haven't taken his computer. They've just shut off Internet access and are watching what he does but he's smarter than they are at that stuff. They didn't find anything."

"Haha, that's Danny. He told me he knows how to hide his tracks online. He's pretty proud of it."

"Can you think of anything else?"

"Just tell him his friends haven't forgotten him. He had my number in his old phone but let me give it to you. Add it to the contacts list so he can call if he wants. You should text him too. Let him know how you feel. I'll talk to my father. He's a lawyer. Maybe he can help. He's helping Josh."

"I hope so. I'm at a loss. I'll keep your number too. I'll try to keep you up to date if you want. My name is Sawyer by the way, Frank Sawyer."

"I'm Dan Johnson and this is Josh, ah, Sullivan." I didn't think it was necessary to go into Josh's situation. Please tell Danny his friends haven't forgotten him."

"I'll try. Thank you. I've been a wreck not being able to do anything. I'm glad we talked."

"We are too. We thought you were coming over to yell at us."

Frank laughed. "No, I was watching you. Fortunately my wife was too caught up in talking to notice. She didn't see you."

"That's good. I just got out of the hospital and was simply having fun. I probably got carried away."

"It's obvious you are good friends," he smiled. "I worry about what type of life Danny will have if he is gay. People can be cruel and even though things are changing I know the majority of the world will look at him differently. I want him to be happy but I worry along with that happiness he'll be missing out on a lot."

"I know being gay is hard to understand," said Josh. "Especially if you're not gay. I just know I want to spend my life with Dan. I want a house and I think I want a family. I know we'll never be considered normal from a traditional point of view. I also know what is right for me is totally foreign to most people. I just can't imagine having the feelings I have for Dan for anyone else let alone a girl. You probably have to be gay to truly understand. It's how he makes me feel inside. It's how guys make me feel but Dan in particular. Girls just don't do the same thing. I'm not missing out on anything."

We all looked at each other and I smiled at Josh. I don't think I loved him any more than at that moment. I was surprised he said all he did but he was right. We are two halves of a whole and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Aristotle knew what he was talking about.

"My boyfriend is right," I said smiling. "Maybe a man and a woman can have those feelings, but they're foreign to me, just as our love is foreign to most people. I think we have it right even though others don't. I know Danny will be happy if he's allowed to be himself. He gets it too. I'm not saying it's right or wrong. It just is."

"I just want him to be happy," said Frank. "You've definitely given me a lot to think about. I'm glad I came over. I'm going to stop at the Verizon store on my way home. We're supposed to go see my daughter for dinner tonight. I'll probably see Danny then and will try to slip him the phone. I'm also going to try making sure he knows I love him and it's okay with me if he's gay. I know he hears people say they love him but also know he feels that love comes with being told how to live his life."

"It would be best to tell him that directly but once you give him the phone you can contact him too. He'll appreciate it."

Frank left after a few minutes but not before thanking us again and paying for our breakfast. We told him he didn't have to but he said it was the least he could do. We told him we had misjudged him but he just smiled. "I can't imagine why," he said. "I'll be in touch."

Josh and I decided to go home. There wasn't any point going by Danny's house since we wouldn't be able to see him anyway. Besides, Scott was waiting. I texted my Dad as we left the restaurant letting him know we're on our way.

11:15 Nicky and Nathan

"Fuck dude, I thought my life sucked when my old man found out I'm gay," Nathan said after Nicky told him about Danny and his Dad. "My father didn't really care much about me anyway. He just laughed and said 'it figures' when he caught me jerking off to gay porn. It might be a little worse now since he only talks to me when he wants his faggot son to do something but he doesn't bother me and I don't bother him."

"My father is ashamed of me," Nicky said. "We were always close. Now it's like he doesn't even see me as his son. It really hurts. I don't know what to do."

"I wish I could say I know how you feel. My father and I were never close. At first it hurt when he called me his faggy son or just referred to me as the faggot but now I don't care. A year and a half and I'm out of here and I'm not looking back. You want to know the funny part? He actually asked why I can't be more like Tyler. That was priceless. I almost laughed and asked if he meant being a top rather than a bottom but I wouldn't do that to Tyler."

"I just don't know what to do. I thought about running away but I've got nowhere to go. I don't have much money. I'm only fourteen. Where would I go?"

"Running away isn't the answer. Have you ever seen a homeless person? Would you want to live like that? Being a kid, gay and homeless would be even worse. There aren't too many ways you can make money to survive. Look, I know it doesn't help but it has only been a few days. You need to let the dust settle. It doesn't sound like your father is a dipshit like mine. You said you've been close. Most people would say give him time. He's just surprised. It's not like you have a choice. Maybe he'll figure that out."

"I'm not holding my breath."

"What about other friends?"


"God I wish he'd get the hint that I'm not going to answer. Do you have any more weed?"

"Nick, maybe you better not. You're pretty fucked up. You've been sitting here smoking and watching two dudes have sex all morning. Your parents have to be worried."

"I doubt it. What's with them anyway? They've really been going at it. How come you don't join them? I know you would if it wasn't for me."

"You're right, I would. The funny thing is I'd normally have pressed you to have sex with me. I don't care that you're only 14. You're cute and I'm horny. You definitely have a cute ass. I'm not just a bottom you know. Any other time I'd be pressuring you into letting me fuck you. I like you though and I'm not a total fuckhead. I also know you're going through some heavy shit. It wouldn't be right."

"You're nice Nathan, but nothing can happen. I can't do that to Danny. I won't."

"It's okay. I understand. Not many people call me nice. Thank you. If anything changes though I'd like to get to know you better. I don't just want to fuck your cute little ass."

"Haha, if your cock is anything like Tyler's you'd rip my cute little ass apart."

"It's not quite as big," laughed Nathan. "You want to see? It is hard right now."

"I'm hard too. Watching those two has me pretty horny. I can't though Nathan. I like you but..."

"I know. That doesn't keep me from wanting too. I'd love to fuck you or suck your cock. You're definitely cute. ...Sorry, I'm just horny... You didn't tell me. Do you have any relatives or friends that could help?"

"Maybe one. I know he'd help but he's in the hospital. He doesn't have time for me. Can we just do a little more weed?"

11:20 Nicholas Wade (Nick's Dad)

"Kevin, it's Nicholas Wade. I'm sorry to bother you and I know I have no right asking after how I acted but I need your help. Actually I need Dan's help. I know he just got out of the hospital and this is really bad timing but can he call Nicky?"

"Can't it wait Nick. Dan isn't home yet. He and Josh went out to breakfast."

"I know it's bad timing but no, it really can't wait. Nicky is gone and I'm worried sick. He wasn't here when I got home and he's not with any of his friends. It's not like him to just take off but the way things have been, the way I've been, I'm not surprised. He won't answer his phone or respond to texts. I even drove back to the office to use a phone he wouldn't recognize. I'm hoping he'll answer if he sees a call from Dan."

"Nick, try to relax. I'll call Dan and ask him to call. He and Josh are on their way home."

"I'm a nervous wreck. I've read about what sometimes happens when parents find out. What you said sunk in. I don't know what I'll do if anything has happened to him. What if he's done something stupid? I don't want to lose him Kevin."

"Nick, take a breath. It's only been a few hours. I'll call Dan right now. Is there anything specific you want him to tell him?"

"Tell him I'm sorry. Tell him his mother and I both love him and that we'll fix this ...together. I don't care if he's gay. I also want to apologize to you. I'm sorry for what I said. This has just been so hard."

"I know how you feel Nick. Let me call Dan. I'm sure Nicky is okay."

11:20 Josh and Dan

Josh and I walked out of the restaurant towards the car. It's probably more accurate to say Josh walked and I hobbled. Fortunately Josh hadn't parked too far from the door. He had wanted me to wait and for him to get the car but me being me... I was stubborn. Josh even told me so.

It was a nice day. The sun was shining and the air was crisp. Fall in New England definitely felt different from fall in Chicago. Maybe it was fall in a small town... the trees... the fresh air. Maybe it was the guy walking next to me holding my hand.

I felt good to have Josh next to me. I was happy. He made me feel good even though it was somewhat painful to walk. I felt at peace. There was this feeling throughout my body that I can't really describe. Aaron had given it to me when it was just him and me. I'm sure he still would but now Josh gave it to me. It's probably a feeling you have to experience to understand. You understand if you're in love. It's the feeling the guy next to you is the most important person in the world and his well-being and happiness are more important than your own. That is such a good feeling and Josh gives me that feeling. I'd do anything for him.

We were holding hands as we walked (hobbled) to the car. He had even initiated it. He had reached for my hand as soon as we stood up from the table almost daring people to say something. I bumped him as we walked through the parking lot, smiling."

"I love you," I said.

"I know," he smiled.

I laughed. "It's customary to say I love you too," I smiled.

"Do you have any doubts?" he asked smiling as he put his arms around me giving me a deep kiss. Complete with his tongue practically down my throat. My jaw was still numb but there was no way I was going to make him stop.

"Oh God Josh, we have to get home. I'm going to have a wet spot on the front of my pants when we walk into the house if you don't stop. They're already going to be tented."

"Don't worry," he smiled giving me another kiss. "Nobody will notice. Now if you were Ryan, then people would notice. Maybe even Scott."

I laughed. "Hey, that's my brother you're talking about."

"I know but Ryan is huge. Anyone would notice."

I watched Josh as he backed out of the parking spot. He was really concentrating since he was worried about denting my father's Escalade. That gave me a chance to watch him without him realizing. To me he was beautiful, but he was also so much more. It's what is on the inside that made him special. The best part is he doesn't even realize it. People who think they're special are the ones I can't stand."

"What?" he asked when he saw me watching.

"I love you. I want to hold you so close you'd think I was trying to pull you inside of me. I never want to lose you."

He smiled. "That's how I feel too, Dan. I want us to be one and I'm looking forward to connecting ourselves through DJ and JJ very soon. I'm so horny. I'm glad you'll be back in bed tonight. It was awkward sleeping with Scott and getting hard."

I laughed. "Getting turned on by an eight-year-old? Again, that's my brother you're talking about. Remind me why I love you again?"

"I wasn't turned on like that and to be honest, I'm still trying to figure out the why. I know you do though, and that's good enough. I also know I love you just as much."

"Drive Josh. Don't think about tonight. You think like that too much and you'll wreck my dad's car. Then we'll both be in the hospital, either from the accident or because my Dad will kill us."

Josh jumped when my phone rang. It was automatically connected to the Escalade's entertainment system as soon as I got in so it rang over the car's speakers.

"Speak of the devil," I said. "What's up Dad? We're on our way home. Don't say anything bad about Josh because you're on speaker and he can hear you," I laughed or tried to.

"Dan, I just got a call from Nicholas Wade. His son is missing. I'm sure he's okay but he's not answering his phone. They had a huge fight. Can you try calling him to see if he'll answer for you? His Dad wants him to come home."

"Dad, I'll try calling to see if he's okay and to let him know but I'm not going to lie to him. I'm not going to say everything will be all right if his father is still acting like an idiot." Josh looked at me and shook his head rolling his eyes. I knew what he was thinking.

"Hey," I said softly. "I could have said fucktard."

"Dan, his father was upset. He blew up at me when I tried talking to him too. He's better now. He apologized. He's worried about Nicky. He loves him and wants to fix things as a family."

"What do you mean fix things? Nicky isn't broken. He needs to accept that."

"Not fix things like that. He said he doesn't care if Nicky is gay. He was just surprised when he found out. As a father, I understand how he felt. Maybe it's because he doesn't know where Nicky is and he's worried but he's sorry. He just wants to tell Nicky."

"Okay Dad. I'll try. Maybe Nicky will go if Josh and I go with him but I'm not going to leave him there if his Dad is just going to yell at him."

"Calm down Dan. He won't. Just try. Please. I'll see you when you get home."

I sat back and let out a sigh as soon as I hung up. Josh put his hand on mine and smiled.

"Calm down Dan. Think of Nicky."

"I am thinking of Nicky."

"Just take a breath and relax before you call him. Think of what you're going to say."

"He'll be on speaker. It's what we're going to say. You're the calm one."

11:30 – Nick and Nathan

"Who is in the hospital Nick?"


"You said you had a friend who might help but he's in the hospital. It sucks to be sick. I hate hospitals."

"He's not really sick. He was in an accident."

"A car accident?"

"No, well, not really an accident. He got beat up but it wasn't a fair fight. He was ambushed."

"Wait... you're not talking about that fight at school last week are you? The one where Phil Clayton got his ass kicked? You're not friends with him are you? That guy is a total dirtbag."

"No way would I be friends with him. I'm friends with the guy he attacked and the guy who kicked the shit out of him. They're cool. I didn't think Josh had it in him. I didn't think he could fight. I guess that's what love can do."


"Yeah, Dan and Josh. They are so in love each other. They're more in love than Danny and me if you can believe that. I know Josh because he lives, or lived, across the street from Danny. I didn't know he was gay until I got to know Dan though. Dan saved Danny and me from getting beat up at the mall once."

"Wait. Clayton attacked Dan Johnson didn't he? Are you telling me he's gay? I thought Clayton did that because Johnson wouldn't take any shit from him. I heard how he ambushed him. What a coward."

"It's the only way he'd be able to do it. Dan is like a black belt in karate. He's really cool."

"He's gay? Wow!!!! I'd have never guessed. I would have propositioned him if I'd known that. God, he's hot. He was who Tyler and Jimmy were giving me shit about before. I told them I wanted him to do me."

"No offense, but it wouldn't happen. You'd have a better chance with me. There's more I could tell you but I probably shouldn't. I don't know how much he wants public knowledge."


"Shit, there he is again. I should probably get home. I have to face him sooner or later."

"Who?," asked Nathan.

"My dad… Wait… It's Dan."

"Answer it."

"I can't. He'll know I'm stoned."

"Let me. Give me your phone. Hello?"

"Who is this?"

"Nathan Caldwell. Is this Dan Johnson."

I had no clue who Nathan Caldwell was. When I didn't say anything Josh said "Hold on" and put the phone on mute. "Nathan Caldwell is a druggie. He's a loser. What is Nicky doing with him?"

"Shit," I said. "Unmute the phone… Yeah, this is Dan. I'm trying to find Nicky Wade. Is he there?" I wanted to ask what the fuck he was doing with Nicky but didn't want to piss the guy off. I needed to talk with Nicky.

"Yeah, he's here. He's shaking his head. He doesn't want to talk with you."

"Please put him on. Tell him I'm on his side. I just need to talk with him."

I heard a faint 'he wants to talk with you' on the other end of the call. "Please Nicky," I called out louder than I should. It hurt talking that loud.

"Nicky, this is Josh. Dan and I are here. Nobody else. We just want to talk with you. Dan is worried. We both are but you know he just got out of the hospital. Please talk with us."

It seemed like minutes but it was only a few seconds before I heard a faint hello.

"Nicky, are you okay? We're worried about you. Your Dad called my Dad and asked me to call. He said you weren't answering your phone."

"I'm fine Dan. Don't worry about me. Go home. I'm fine. Really fine. Really really fine. I'm just sitting here talking to Nathan watching Tyler and Jimmy fuck their brains out. Tyler has some really big balls. They hang way down too. You should see them. They're like watching a hy… hyp… hypnotist's watch swinging back and forth … back and forth..."

I looked at Josh.

"Nicky, are you okay? Where are you? Let us come get you."

"Dan, go home. You just got out of the ho... hos... hospital," said Nicky slurring his words. "You'll be pissed at me anyway. You'll hate me too. Everyone hates me. Everyone except my new friends. They make me forget my father doesn't think I'm his son any more. I think I'm going to forget some more now."

Josh and I looked at each other. "He's high," mouthed Josh. Thank God for hands-free. Josh had heard everything. I didn't know what to say.

"Nicky, wait." said Josh. "This is Josh. It's okay. We don't hate you. Let us come pick you up. Where are you?"

"You just want to take me home. I'm not going. He hates me. Do you know what he said?"

"Nicky, Dan's Dad talked to your father. He's sorry. He wants to talk to you. He loves you. He wants to make things okay."

"By grounding me until I'm thirty? By telling me no son of his is a fag? By saying he doesn't have a son?"

"Tell us where you are. Let us come get you. He said he doesn't care if you're gay. We'll go home with you. You can come with us if your father is lying. We'll take you to Dan's. We'll let Dan's father help. He's helping me. I promise you can trust him."

There was a long pause. He was obviously thinking. Hopefully Josh got through to him. I didn't often pray and I didn't really this time either but when I softly said "Please Nicky" I felt Josh's hand on mine. I hadn't even realized I said it. I wasn't talking to Nicky. I was just saying what I was feeling out loud.

"He said that?"

"That's what Dan's father said he said and I believe him."

"Okay," said Nicky. "I'm in the park. I'll meet you by the picnic tables. I have my bike. I'm stoned Josh. Please don't tell Dan."

"It's okay Nicky. Dan knows. He's right here and you're on speaker. We'll come get you. We'll put your bike in the back and take you home. Dan and I are both here for you. You can trust us. You can trust Dan's father too. I promise."

"I hope so. Dan, please don't be mad at me."

"It's okay Nicky. I'm not mad. We'll see you in a few minutes."

"This isn't good," said Josh as soon as Nicky hung up. "Nathan Caldwell is trouble. He obviously got Nicky high. We can't take him home like that. If his father wasn't pissed before, he'll be bullshit when he finds out."

"One step at a time. The first thing to do is get Nicky. I want to give him a hug to let him know he's okay and then I'll kick his ass for getting high."

"Good thing you're in no condition to do that. He needs you as a friend right now."

"I know, but drugs?"

"He's not a druggie Dan. He's scared."

It took us almost twenty minutes to get to the park. I didn't think it was that big of a town but the park was on the opposite side from where we were. Plus we hit every light red. We expected to see Nicky waiting by the picnic tables. What we didn't expect was to see multiple cop cars in the parking lot putting two boys in the back of each car. One of whom was Nicky. One cop was putting Nicky's bike in the trunk of the police car.

"Oh man," I said. "Not good. Now what?"

"I don't know Dan. This is getting out of control. There's Lt. Henderson. Let's talk to him."

"Dan? Josh? What are you doing here? Why aren't you in the hospital… or home?"

"I just got released. We were on our way home when my Dad called and asked us to find Nicky Wade," I said nodding towards the back of one of the cars. "His father is worried about him."

"Tell his father he can pick him up at the police station. We found these boys in the old maintenance shack high as kites. Two of them were naked. I'm sure you can imagine what they were doing."

"I know what they were doing. I just talked to Nicky. Was he…?"

"No, it looks like he was simply with them. He had his clothes on if that's what you mean. He's obviously been smoking. He's pretty high."

"He's only fourteen. He's a good kid lieutenant. He's been through a lot lately." I explained what had happened with him and Danny as well as with his father. "He's not a druggie. Isn't there something you can do?"

"Dan, he's been doing drugs. He may be a good kid but that's a crime. The other three are older and known troublemakers. If he's only fourteen I'd like to charge them with contributing to the delinquency of a minor or something to get their attention. That's a stretch since they're not eighteen."

"I can't believe Nicky had drugs."

"He didn't have any on him. The other three did though. Well, the other two did after they got dressed. They gave them to him. He's obviously been smoking though."

"Isn't there something you can do? He's a good kid. He just made a mistake. He had a fight with his Dad when he found out he is gay. I can't believe he'd do drugs though. Maybe he was just there. Maybe he got affected by second hand smoke or something. Are you sure he was smoking?" I knew that was pretty weak but I was grasping at straws.

Lt. Henderson shook his head not like he was saying no but more like he was thinking. He looked at me. Then he looked over towards Nicky. Then he smiled.

"You know Dan, maybe you're right. I didn't actually see him smoke anything and he didn't have anything on him. The other boys had drugs so I've got them for possession. Let me talk to them. I'll explain that if Nicky was smoking pot then I'll be charging them with possession AND contributing to the delinquency of a minor but if they tell me he wasn't then I've only got them for possession and things will go easier on them. They don't know I can't do that. Give me a few minutes."

I couldn't help but smile. "Thank you lieutenant. I appreciate that. You've been really good to us. I appreciate that too. I know we've caused you trouble."

"Well Dan, I can tell real troublemakers from good kids who make mistakes. There's no point in turning the latter into the former. Like you say he's been through a lot. Let me talk to the older three. Assuming they aren't complete idiots he should be able to go home but I'm taking him, not you. You can follow but he needs to know there are some consequences for his actions. Being a little scared might teach him a lesson. Besides, we both know he didn't just inhale second hand smoke."

Josh put his hand on my arm and said "thank you lieutenant. Can we talk to him?"

"Give me a few minutes."

Lt. Henderson went over to the police cars and took the three older boys over to one of the picnic tables. He was really doing Nicky a favor. It was also probably a good thing he talked to all three of them together. Josh and I watched them talking but were too far away to hear what they were saying."

"That's Nathan Caldwell on the left," said Josh. "The other two are Tyler and Jimmy. I think Jimmy is Nathan's brother. They're all troublemakers."

Nathan looked over at us and smiled. Then he looked at Nicky in the back of the police car and shook his head saying something to Lt. Henderson. The other two nodded in agreement when Lt. Henderson looked at them. It seemed like they got the message.

Lt. Henderson walked back over smiling as the other officers put all three boys in the back of the second police car.

"Well, they're not idiots. They swear Nicky didn't do drugs. They said he was just in the maintenance shack when they got there and they just did their thing. It's bullshit. You know it and I know it but go talk to your friend. Tell him he's lucky."

Josh and I walked towards Lt. Henderson's car just as the second cruiser was pulling out. Nathan Caldwell looked at us and nodded. There was a moment of understanding. He knew it was bullshit Nicky didn't smoke and he wanted us to know he'd play along. Maybe he wasn't such a bad guy after all.

"Nicky," said Josh as he opened the door. "Come here."

"I'm sorry Josh. I didn't mean to..."

"Shh Nicky. Don't say anything. You're okay. You're not being charged with anything."


"Nathan and the other two guys told Lt. Henderson you weren't smoking. They said if you were high it must have been from second hand smoke."


"Quiet Nicky. Lt. Henderson knows that's bullshit. He's doing you a favor. He's a good guy. He's taking you home though. He said you need to know you messed up though."

"Dan, my father will kill me. If he's going to ground me until I'm thirty for being gay he's going to make it sixty when the police bring me home and tell them I've been doing drugs."

I reached out and put my arm around him the best I could. His clothes reeked.

"Don't say you've been doing drugs again. The story is you got high from second hand smoke."

"What? Nobody is going to believe that."

"Relax Nicky. Lt. Henderson is a good guy. He's a team player if you know what I mean. He understands what you're going through. He talked to the other three and they all said you didn't smoke anything. You got lucky. He's going to drive you home though. Josh and I will be right behind you."

"Are you mad at me Dan? I'm sorry. It just happened. I had to get away. I couldn't bother you. I didn't have anywhere to go. I was just sitting over there when they showed up. They weren't bad guys. Nathan was nice to me. He wanted to mess around but didn't make me."

I held him as tight as I could which wasn't too tight since I still hurt. He was close to me and that was enough.

"It's okay Nicky. No, I'm not mad. I understand. Josh and I are here for you. You're not alone."

Nicky looked at me with tears in his eyes. "I didn't though. I thought about it but I didn't. I couldn't do that to Danny. Please believe that."

"I know you wouldn't," I said trying to give him a reassuring hug. I was sure of that. Of course I would have said he wouldn't have done drugs too but there is a big difference between wouldn't and WOULDN'T. Nicky may be young but his feelings for Danny are like mine for Josh. He'd never do anything to hurt him.

"Thank you Dan," said Nicky through sniffles. "Thank you for this too. I know you had something to do with me not being arrested."

"Well, this was as much Josh too. He kept me focused. He's my Danny. You should thank Lieutenant Henderson too."

"Will I ever see Danny again?"

"I don't know Nick but you, me, Josh, and a lot of others will help to try making that happen … including your Dad."

"I hope so. Thinking he doesn't love me hurts."

"He loves you Nicky. We all love you."

"Let's go young man," said Lieutenant Henderson. "How are you feeling?"

"Better… Scared," he said. "Thank you sir. I know you could have arrested me along with everyone else."

"Everyone is entitled to one mistake. Just don't let it happen again. Being gay only gets you one get out of jail free card with this gay cop," he smiled.

Nicky smiled. He knew Lt. Henderson cared. "It won't. I promise."

"Good, now let's get you home."

"Alright. I'm starved," he smiled.

I thought he's back to being the fourteen year-old I knew.

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