by Victor Thomas

Chapter 10

I awoke in the emergency room, with no idea how much time had passed, or how I got there. I was in a daze. My head hurt, my face hurt, my nuts hurt. Hell, everything hurt. Blurry faces swirled in and out, doctors, nurses, my mothers, Brian's, Mark's, Ryan's, and others. I wasn't sure if they were really there, or if I was only dreaming. I wasn't even sure I was really there at all. My head swam in pain. I couldn't focus, couldn't think. The only thing I was sure about was that I'd never felt so bad before. It was as if I'd been hit by a truck, a big one.

My first lucid thought was the next morning, at least I think it was the next morning, when I awoke in a hospital room. I was bandaged, bruised, sure as hell, but apparently whole. Tubes ran to my arms and up my nose. I had no idea how I'd gotten there. The last twenty-four hours were all a blur. I felt a hand on my forehead; it was Brian.

"Brian," I croaked.

The weakness of my own voice surprised me, and it was hard to breathe.

He took my hand. There were tears in his eyes.

"How do you feel?"

"Like Ms. Brown sat on me repeatedly."

He smiled at my lame joke. I had told him about Ms. Brown, my algebra teacher, who weight well over three hundred pounds.

"Shouldn't you be at school?" I asked.

It must have been at least mid-morning, judging by the light coming through the window.

"I skipped. You think I'm gonna leave you here alone when you need me? I didn't find out about what happened to you until this morning when Mark called me. He didn't find out about what happened to you until this morning when he got to school. Apparently, everyone's talking about it."

"Jesus, everyone at school talking about me. What a novelty," I moaned. I'd been the talk of the school so often it would've felt strange if I wasn't. "How did they find out anyway?"

"I don't know, but you know how stuff like this gets around."

"No shit!" I coughed.

He spent the next hour trying to cheer me up. For days he'd been trying to break me out of my depression, and now he was trying to make me feel better. My pain was mainly physical, however, and would heal sooner or later. My mental pain was much deeper and was going to be a lot harder to overcome. I was almost glad to be stuck in that hospital bed. At least it meant I didn't have to return to school.

The day before I was outed seemed almost a dream. I was a star football player and had the admiration of my peers. I could walk down the hallways without anyone bothering me. Girls thought I was cute and pursued me. Even though I wasn't interested in them, it sure made me feel good that they wanted me. Hell, even my 'girlfriends' mother was after me! I know everything was far from perfect then, but looking back it seemed like a golden age. At least then my life didn't totally suck. Back then I didn't have Brian and his love either. And that really would have sucked.

"Who did this to you, Scott?" he asked.

He had a grim expression on his face.

"Huh? Oh…"

My thoughts were drifting and it took me a moment to focus on his question. I think they had me on some kind of pain killers or something.

"Ashton," I said with a croak, "with Alex and Jeremy. Steve was there too, but he mainly just watched until they all kicked the shit out of me at the end."

I told him all I could remember about what happened. My mind was a bit foggy, but I'd never forget what they'd done to me. When I was finished, he was trembling with fury, tears rolling down his cheeks.

"I'll kill every one of those fucking bastards! I will!" he hissed.

He scared the shit out of me. He meant it, he really did. He actually started walking out the door. I knew that I had to stop him or else he'd really kill them, or get killed himself.

"Brian," I called. "Please come back!"

My voice croaked.

He spun on his heel and ran back to the side of my bed.

"Please don't," I pleaded with him.

"I'm gonna kill those fuckers!"

He seethed with fury.

It was frightening to see him transformed like that. His sensitive, angelic face was contorted by hate and rage. He had become an angel of death. Such fury on the face of one so kind, sensitive, and loving was terrifying.

"Brian, look at me!" I ordered.

He stared into my eyes. What I read there filled me with dread. I reached out, grabbed his hand and squeezed it.

"I don't want you going near them. Promise me you won't."

He didn't speak, just slowly nodded his head no. The hate and bitterness in his eyes was terrifying.

"Brian, if you love me, promise me," I begged. "Promise me!"

I was crying. I'd never been so scared in all my life. I was deathly afraid he was going to go out and get himself killed. If not that, he'd kill those boys and spend the rest of his life in prison. My flesh crawled with thoughts of what would happen to him there. I couldn't bear it.

"Promise me!" I pleaded. "Please, please promise me!"

The desperation and despair in my voice was clear. I reached up and grabbed his forearm.

He looked at me, tears flooding his eyes. At last, he relented.

"Alright. I promise."

I bawled even harder with relief.

"And promise me that you won't tell Mark," I added. "I don't want him to get himself into bad trouble for bashing Ashton."

"But they shouldn't be able to get away with what they did. Someone should make them pay for it," he said quietly.

I caught my breath.

"Maybe someday someone will, but I don't want it to be you or him, or one of my other friends," I said.

He nodded. He leaned over and kissed my forehead.

"I promise. For you," he said.

Brian came back and visited me every single day. As soon as his school was out, he was by my side and didn't leave until the nurse forced him out. It was such a comfort to feel so loved. I sure as hell wasn't getting love from anywhere else.

In the evening of my second day, my mother stopped in to check on me. He was just heading out to get something to eat. She looked at him with disapproval, but he just ignored her. Once she thought he was the most wonderful boy in the world, but as soon as she'd discovered we were lovers, she did a complete turnaround. I waited for her to say something about him, but she didn't. It was just as well. It would only have caused an argument. I was damn well going to have him in my room. She looked at me with sorrow and disappointment.

"Scott, how can you put yourself through all this? Isn't it time to give it up? You could find a nice girl. You could…"

"Mother, for god's sake."

She still didn't understand. She seemed to think that being gay was a choice, like I could switch my sexual orientation as easily as changing channels on the television. Hell, she acted like my getting beaten nearly to death was my fault!

"This is what I am! This is who I am! Nothing is gonna change. Can't you understand that?"

I looked into her eyes. It was clear that she really couldn't understand. Despite everything, I felt sorry for her. She just couldn't grasp the fact that I was gay. She'd never accept it or even comprehend it. At least she cared enough to come and check on me. My dad never visited me, not once. I guess it showed that he didn't love me, had probably never loved me; he only loved the idea of who I was. And I'm sure he thought I got what I deserved. Hell, he would've probably helped Ashton and his Nazis beat me up.

She just looked at me with sorrow, shaking her head. She didn't stay long, and she didn't come back. I wasn't alone, however. Brian was there every second he was away from school. Mark and Ryan came to see me, as did Brendan and Robert. Some of the other guys came to see me, too. Laura was there almost every afternoon. I didn't have many friends, but those I had were good ones.


Wednesday, November 7, 2001

Chouteau Student Found Beaten in Locker Room

Jonathan Davidson

Seventeen-year-old Scott McCall, a senior at Chouteau High School, was found badly beaten in the high school football team locker room yesterday afternoon. He was discovered by two of his friends after he failed to meet them after practice.

McCall was rushed by ambulance to the Labette County Medical Center here in Parsons, where he was treated for four cracked ribs, a chipped tibia, as well as being badly bruised over his entire body from the beating, along with a cut above his left eyebrow. McCall also required emergency dental surgery to treat a cut in his mouth and on his lower teeth.

According to sources, McCall was recently publicly outed for being gay, and the beating was a result of this information. This information has not been confirmed by school officials or the local police department.

No additional information is available at this time, but this newspaper will continue to look into this and will keep our readers informed as things develop.

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