Falling Off a Log
"What'd Nick tell you about last night?" he asked when Nick was gone.
"Nothing. We didn't talk about it."
"What'd you talk about? You were gone a long time."
"We didn't say anything. He was all shook up, and I just sat with him. He was like in another world. He didn't move a muscle until just before I came down to get some food. At first he didn't want to eat, then he like inhaled it. That's when we went downstairs."
"Think we should ask him what happened?" Scott asked.
I was wary of that, "I don't know. I don't think we should ask. If he wants to talk about it, let him bring it up."
Scott's Dad stuck his head in the door. "Where's Nick?"
"In the shower."
"Is he ok? I want to talk to him."
"He's a lot better. I don't know if he wants to talk, though."
"He'll talk. Bring him down to the den when he's done."
Nick came back in the room, and I went to take a shower while Scott fixed him up with some clothes. When I got back Nick had already gone to talk with Scott's father.
Scott said, "Your Dad's here with them. And Mr. Hensley. It's like a big pow-wow. Nick wanted me to stay with him, but they wanted to talk to him alone for a while. Dad said it's gonna be a while and we should go do whatever 'til they're done."
Scott went into the bathroom and I was left alone to ponder what was going on. I was getting a little paranoid. What if Nick had done something to his family? What if he'd killed his stepfather? By the time Scott came back I was a nervous wreck.
"What's with you?" he asked, sensing my discomfort.
"I'm scared, Scott. I can't help thinking Nick did something awful last night. Why else would everybody be here? Why wouldn't they want us to hear what's going on?"
"Oh, shit, Joe. Do you think he might have? I mean, what would he do? Set the house on fire or something? Now you got me scared!"
"Let's talk about something else. I don't wanna even think about this anymore."
We poked around the house for a while, then went out to the barn Nothing seemed very interesting. We'd normally find a million things to fool around with, but today we were quiet. Time really dragged by. We went back up to the house at lunch time and they were still shut up in the den. Scott's Mom made sandwiches and brought some into their meeting while we ate in the kitchen.
"What's going on in there, Mom? How much longer?" Scott asked.
"I'm not sure what they're doing. Your father's on the phone with somebody right now."
"How's Nick? Is he OK?"
She smiled, "He looked fine, Scotty. Kind of excited, actually."
"Like happy excited, or scared excited?"
"I don't know. I think maybe happy, but I could be wrong. I don't really know him. Don't get all worried. He's in very good hands."
We went back and poked around the barn some more, ending up in the loft. I tried to lighten things up by telling Scott about my idea for Wank Tanks. He thought it was pretty funny, but neither on of us felt like laughing much. We mostly just sat there and held hands. We just listened to each other's thoughts.
Finally, we heard Scott's father calling us from down below. "We're in the loft, Dad!"
We could hear him say, "Just climb the ladder, Son. Everything's gonna work out fine."
A few moments later, Nick's head popped up in the loft. He was wearing a grin that looked like it'd take surgery to remove. "You guys aren't gonna believe this! It's so cool! So cool!" We ran over and hugged him. "I've never been so happy in my life! Your fathers are the best! You guys are so lucky!"
"What happened? What took so long?" I asked.
"Im gonna live with you, Joey, for awhile. My Dad's coming at Thanksgiving, then I'm gonna live with him! Permanently!"
I got all happy for a second, then the second part of what he said registered. "But ... your Dad lives in ... I don't know where he lives, but it's far. How're we ever gonna see you? Why'd this hafta happen? I mean ... I'm happy for you, but you're my friend."
"Dad's gonna move here! Keith's father gave him a job at his shop. Your mother's findin' us some place to live! We can be friends as long as you want! I'm gonna faint."
Scott and I laid down on the loose hay, leaving room for Nick between us. "Start at the beginning. What happened when you went down there?"
"Well, first they wanted to know if I was OK and what happened last night. Like why was I sleeping on your porch. When my asshole stepfather came home last night he was all pissed off because your father talked to him. He called me every rotten name in the book. Then he started in on you guys and Keith. He was calling you rotten little faggots and shit like that right in front of my mother and sister. My Mom tried to get him to stop, but he just got worse. I finally started screaming back at him. He doesn't even know you guys! I was so pissed I don't know what I said. Mom finally got us separated and I went and locked myself in my room. Then he came banging on the door and told me I was grounded forever and I could never see you guys again. I layed there crying for a long time. I stayed there for hours. I felt like I lost everything. I finally just got up and left. It was cold out so I grabbed his ski parka. I didn't know where to go and it was real late. I knew Joey was supposed to be here and Keith already told me where you live. I didn't want to wake everybody up, so I sat on the porch. Guess I fell asleep."
"Why's your step dad so rotten to you? Do you know why he hates you so much?"
"Oh, I know why alright. He ... he caught me sucking somebody's dick. Right in our living room. I thought he was at work and he wasn't. I don't blame him for bein' mad about seeing that, but he's not just mad. He hates me for it. Because I'm queer. He hates me more every day. I can't take it anymore"
Nick was on the verge of tears again. I held his hand. Scott held the other.
"Forget it Nick. You don't have to tell us. But what else happened - I mean, you were in there all day."
"Scott's Dad called up my Mom to say I was OK. I talked to her a little, but I was all choked up."
He got choked up saying it, and paused. "She said how sorry she was for the way Frank treats me, and how she tries to make it better, but he just won't hear it. Then she talked to your Dad some more, and he said he'd call her back. Then they talked to me about how I'd feel about getting out of the house for a while, like a couple of weeks or something. Then they asked me questions about my real Dad for about an hour, like what kind of stuff we did when we're together and did he know about me, what he did for a living, everything. I think they wanted to know if I really got along with him or just remembered the good stuff. Then they left the room for a while and when they came back Scott's Dad called Mom again and asked her how she'd feel if I stayed with your family for a few weeks. I guess she thinks it's a good idea. She's gonna to get Frank away from the house later and we're going over to get my stuff. Mandy'll be there to let us in."
I grinned, "Jeez, Nick. This is really great. It'll be like I have a brother again. Mine are both in college and I haven't seen 'em since summer."
"Anyhow, then they called Frank at his store. Your dads took turns calling him a worthless jerk. Keith's father did, too. They warned him that if he ever said shit about you kids again that they'd sue him and have him tossed in jail. He actually did try to apoligize for how he was acting last night, but not for how he felt about me. Anyhow, I'm double glad I'm not going to be home tonight. He's gonna be rippin'!"
I chuckled, "I bet. I wish I heard it - my Dad gets real good with words when he's mad. It must have been funny to listen to."
"He was great, Joe. He really builds up to things, doesn't he? First he's like tellin' a story all nice and friendly, he's circlin' around like a buzzard, then he gets to the point - that Frank's a close-minded asshole who doesn't deserve the space he takes up on this earth. You'da been proud of him. Anyhow, then they hand me the phone and tell me to call my Dad. To just say hi to him and then give it to Scott's father. He wasn't at home at first, so I tried later. He was really surprised to hear from me and I guess we talked a long time, but nobody said anything. After a while, I remembered what I was supposed to do, and said there was somebody who needed to talk to him. Here's where it gets amazin'. Scott's Dad says, 'Mr. Cassarino, my name's Paul Johnson. You may know me by my stage name which is @@@@@'. He's talkin to my dad and then it hits me. Like, WHAT? And I'm lookin' at him trying to see it. He's winkin' at me while I'm staring. He takes off his glasses, and I'm startin' to get it. Then he reaches in his desk and pulls out a wig. A fuckin' WIG! Then he gives the phone to Mr. Hensley and puts the wig on and .... it's HIM! Scott! Your Dad's @@@@@! I. CAN. NOT. BELIEVE. IT! I wouldn'ta guessed in a million years. Anyhow, I missed all of what everyone was saying to my Dad. They gave me back the phone, and my Dad's tellin' me stuff and your Dad's grinnin' at me, and I didn't know what was going on. I finally settled down enough to listen. They asked my Dad if he'd consider moving here and having me live with him. He was hesitant about his job and all, but then Keith's dad offered him a job at his shop. He said he can always use a good toolmaker. Then Joey's dad offers to have his wife find us a place to live. Guys! He's movin here! I'm gonna live with my Dad!"
He rolled on his side and hugged Scott, then rolled over and hugged me. We all stood up and hugged each other. We were laughing and crying at the same time. We all kissed each other. Over and over.
"He's just gotta give notice at work, then rent a trailer to move here. He'll be here the weekend before Thanksgiving. I can't wait 'til you guys meet him. You've got great dads, but mine is ... well ... you'll see. He's great, too. You're gonna love him!"
"Oh. There's more. Joey's Dad had a long talk with me about sex. Said he told you the same stuff, Joe. That I'm way too young to be messin' around the way I was. He made a lot of sense, Joe. I guess I kinda knew it anyhow, I mean that thing happened two years ago and I never did anything since. Um ... until the other night, anyhow. Did you tell Scott yet?"
Scott perked right up. "Tell me what? I wanna know! What happened the other night? Tell me, guys!"
Nick explained our little roll in the leaves the other night. He was so sure I was going to hate him for it that he'd cried all night. Then when he saw us all smiling and excited the next morning, he couldn't believe it. And it made him think that maybe I'd be his boyfriend. That made me turn about nine shades of red and Scott started laughing and teasing.me about it. Then he stopped and looked at Nick and told him that, sorry, but Joey's taken. That I was bethrothed to Mandy Fleming. But he said he might be available if Nick liked the looks of things, and he started prancing around sticking out his butt, then his crotch. We were laughing like idiots when Scott's Dad yelled that it was time to go get Nick's stuff.
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