“I can’t tell you,” Casey sobbed. “Please don’t ask.”
“Whatever it is, it can’t be that bad,” Nancy assured him.
“He made me have sex with him,” Casey sobbed even louder. It was as if Casey had a weight lifted and he was relieved to finally tell his secret.
“Who made you have sex,” Allen asked.
“Our neighbor in Davis,” Casey said as he continued to cry.
“Casey, start from the beginning and tell us,” Nancy said. “You’ve done nothing wrong.”
“He gave me some marijuana to smoke, and then he told me he would tell my parents and the police unless I let him,” Casey said. “I told him no, and then he said it was okay. He then gave me a soda to drink and I passed out.”
“Casey, he drugged you,” Allen said. “You’ve done nothing wrong except for not reporting it to your parents.
“I was too embarrassed,” Casey said. “Besides, I could have been arrested for the marijuana.”
“You do know that we have to call your parent’s, don’t you?” Nancy asked.
“No, please don’t,” Casey pleaded.
“We have no choice,” Allen agreed. “Carla and Mike love you and they need to know that you were raped.”
Jeremy had a strange feeling that he shouldn’t be in the room as his parents consoled his friend. He didn’t understand this feeling, but the feeling to get out of the room was intense. He quietly left the room and rode his bike to the one place he knew he could find comfort, Annie Wolf’s.
Annie wasn’t home when Jeremy arrived; he parked his bike and walked to the edge of the bluff overlooking the river valley below to mull over the changes in his friendship with Casey. What had Casey endured at the hands of a molester? Casey had been his best friend since kindergarten, was that friendship gone?
“Where is your coat?” Jeremy heard Annie ask. “You’re going to freeze out here. Come in the house and get warm.”
Deep in thought, Jeremy hadn’t realized how cold he was, nor had he heard Annie approach him. He stood shivering and from the cold. He welcomed the warmth of Annie’s house and the hot tea she served him.
“Jeremy, I was wrong when I let my anger at your friend control my tongue,” Annie said as she poured Jeremy a second cup of tea. “I have an impression that Casey is a good a-tsu-tsa (boy), but something has happened to make him react the way he did when Cody called you babe.”
“Annie it was something bad,” Jeremy said. “He was molested by his neighbor in California. He’s not the same boy he was when we were neighbors. He’s changed from the happy fun loving friend that I knew to a miserable and unhappy person.”
"You’re friend needs you now more than ever,” Annie said. “Shouldn’t you be there with him
“He’s different now.”
“Of course he’s different now. He’s had a very traumatic experience. Jeremy, sometimes we have to look past our own hurt to see the hurt in others. It has started to rain now. Put your bike in my truck and I’ll drive you home.”
“I’ll be okay riding my bike home.”
“You didn’t bring a coat and it is a cold rain. I don’t want you getting sick. Anyway, I need to apologize to Casey.”
“Why don’t you buy yourself a new truck?” Jeremy asked as the old pickup truck sputtered in the cold and then finally started.
“This old thing will probably live longer than I will,” Annie grinned. “I have a Lincoln Town Car parked in that old garage over by the chicken house, but I only drive it enough to keep the battery charged.”
“I’ve never seen you drive it before,” Jeremy said as they pulled into the driveway at his house. He shivered from the cold and touched the heater vent to check for warm air.
After Jeremy unloaded his bike from the truck he and Annie went into the house and found his parents cooking dinner. “Hello Annie,” Nancy said as she saw Annie with her son. “I assumed he would be with you.”
“It has turned cold and I didn’t want him catching a cold,” Annie said. “He only had on that light jacket.”
“Thank you for bringing him home,” Allen said. “You’re just in time for dinner.”
“I wouldn’t want to impose,” Annie said.
“Family doesn’t impose,” Nancy said. “You’re like a grandmother to Jeremy.”
“Thank you,” Annie said. “Like I said, it’s nice to eat someone else’s cooking for a change. Is there anything I can do to help?”
“No, we have it covered,” Allen said. “Would you like something to drink?”
“That coffee smells good,” Annie said.
“Jeremy, would you get a cup of coffee for Annie and then go tell Casey that dinner is almost ready.”
Jeremy filled a mug with the freshly made coffee for Annie. He took his time delaying having to face Casey.
“Is Casey okay?” Annie asked. “Jeremy told me what had happened.”
“I don’t know,” Nancy said. “We’ve called his parents and we will be picking them up at the airport in Tulsa tonight.”
“That boy needs a lot of love and support right now,” Annie said. “Are his parents they type that will give him that?”
“Carla and Mike are good people,” Allen said. “We’ve talked to them on the phone already. The problem is with Casey. He’s still very bitter and hurt.”
Jeremy tapped lightly on the guest room door and there was no answer. He again tapped more loudly and heard, “What?”
Jeremy opened the door and saw Casey on the bed staring at the ceiling. “Dinner’s ready. Mom’s making your favorite, spaghetti.” Jeremy knew how much Casey has loved his mom’s spaghetti and he had always been invited to dinner when it was on the menu.
“I’m not hungry,” Casey harshly said. “Close the door on your way out.”
Jeremy would have been hurt by Casey’s attitude, but he understood how he was hurting. Yet, he didn’t know how to comfort his friend.
“He said he wasn’t hungry,” Jeremy said as Allen took the garlic bread from the oven.
“I’ll go talk to him,” Allen said. “He hasn’t eaten since breakfast.”
“If you don’t mind, I’d like to go talk to him,” Annie said. “I do owe him an apology for the way I talked to him yesterday.”
“Jeremy, would you show Annie where Casey is?” Nancy asked.
After Jeremy had pointed out the guest room to Annie, he quietly retreated to the kitchen to join his parents. Annie tapped on the door and heard, “I said I’m not hungry, asshole.”
She opened the door and said, “I’ve been called a lot of things, but I do believe this is the first time I’ve ever been called an asshole.”
“What do you want?” Casey inquired as he remembered the how Annie had reprimanded him for calling Jeremy a fag.
“I want to apologize to you for the way a talked to you earlier. I was wrong to have done that.”
“They told you, didn’t they?”
“Yes, but that’s not why I’m apologizing. I was wrong. Casey, I understand why you’re angry.”
“No you don’t. Nobody does, unless they’ve been through what I’ve been through.”
“That’s why I understand.”
“What do you mean?”
“Casey, when I was about your age I was raped too.”
“But, I was raped by a fag.”
“No you were raped by a man, just as I was. The man who raped you may or may not be gay. When people rape others it usually isn’t for the sex. It’s for power or control. It wouldn’t surprise me if that man hasn’t done the same to girls too. I was like you when I was raped. I was ashamed of what had happened and it took the love of my husband to put that behind me. One day you will find someone to love and all of this will just be a bad memory. I would still cut the balls off of that bastard that raped me if I ever saw him again. Only three people know that I was raped, my husband, Jeremy’s grandmother who was my best friend and the rapist. And now you make four.”
In spite of his anger and embarrassment, Casey giggled at Annie’s statement. He was beginning to like and understand how Jeremy cared so much for this elderly Indian woman. “You never told your parents?”
“No, in those days things such as this weren’t discussed. Allen and Nancy said that your parents were caring parents who loved you. There have been many times that I wished I had told them. Now come and let’s go eat before Nancy’s spaghetti gets cold.”
The Morgan family was shocked to see Annie Wolf walk into the dining room with her arm around Casey. It was obvious that he had been crying, but he now had a sheepish smile on his face.
Dinner conversation was polite but there was obviously a cloud over the group. The adults maintained the conversation and attempted to bring the boy in, but there was still a strained relationship between the two. “We need to be in Tulsa to pick up Carla and Mike tonight at 10:00, do you boys want to go?” Allen asked.
“No,” Casey quickly answered wanting to delay facing his parents as long as possible.
“Jeremy, we will have our cell phone if you need us,” Allen said, not giving him an option about going.
“I’m not that far, they can call me,” Annie offered.
“Thank you Annie,” Nancy said. “Jeremy, we need to be going to Tulsa, would you please clear the table and load the dishwasher?”
“We’ll take care of everything here,” Annie offered.
“Thank you, Annie,” Nancy said as she gave Annie a hug. “If you don’t already have plans for Thanksgiving dinner would you care to join us?”
“I’d love that,” Annie said. “Now you go and these boys and I will cleanup here.”
The three began the cleaning task in silence. Annie began to sing in Cherokee:
“What is that you’re singing?” Casey asked.
“That is a Cherokee friendship song,” Annie said as she began singing the song in English:
Hello you are my friend
Hello you are my friend
“It’s a beautiful song,” Casey said. “Were you singing it for my benefit?”
“No, I was singing it for both of you,” Annie said with a quick smile. “I think I’ll leave the remainder of the cleanup to you two. I think you need some time alone.”
“You don’t need to go, Annie,” Jeremy quickly said.
Jeremy respected Annie’s wisdom, but he wasn’t sure he was comfortable being left alone with Casey. There was a time when he treasured his time spent alone with his best friend, but not now. Things changed. He was hurt by Casey’s remarks, but he also understood from where they came.
“I know Jeremy, but it is getting late,” Annie said. “I’m just a phone call away if you need me.”
Once they had said goodbye to Annie there was an uneasy truce between the two. Casey took the initiate and began the conversation, “So, what’s school like here?”
“It’s really pretty good,” Jeremy said as he began to relax. “Like most schools of any size, there are assholes. But most of the kids are cool. Cody and I are in choir and really like it.”
“You’re really good. I didn’t know you could sing.”
“I didn’t either until I met Annie. She encouraged me to join the choir. We’ve been working on our Christmas Concert with the instrumental music department. Cody and I will be singing a duet in Cherokee. Then Cody and I will sing with Annie. She was invited as a guest artist.”
“Wow, I wish I could be here to see that.”
“Maybe you could come back.”
“After what I did, I’ll be lucky if my parents ever let me out of my room.”
“Casey, you were the victim. You were molested.”
“But, I thought I let it happen because of the marijuana he gave.”
“He gave you that marijuana because he wanted something over you. Had you ever used it before?”
“No, I’d heard the other kids taking about it and I wanted to try. I’ll never touch the damn stuff again.”
“Casey, I hope you don’t think badly of me because I’m gay after what that man did to you.”
“No Annie made me see that what he did wasn’t about sex. She understood because she was raped when she was young.”
Jeremy had a shocked looked on his face, a look that said, “She told you something about herself that she never told me.”
“I didn’t like her when you first introduced her to me. But, she knew that I needed to hear that I shouldn’t hate that you’re gay because of what happened to me. I really am sorry for the way I treated you and Cody.”
“It’s okay, I understand now. Annie really is a wise woman.”
“I probably shouldn’t have told you what she told me about being raped.”
“I’ll never mention it, but I think she would understand.”
Allen and Nancy arrived with time to spare before the Mike and Carla’s flight was scheduled to arrive according to the flight display. “It will probably be late like most every other flight,” David grumbled as they checked the flight status.”
“Do you think they will understand that Casey was molested and overlook the fact that he smoked marijuana?”
“They’re good parents. I think they’ll understand.”
“David, you know how adamant they were about drugs after Mike’s brother died of an overdose. I just hope they can see past the marijuana thing.”
“It’s over an hour’s drive back to Tahlequah. We’ll have time to talk to them before we get there.”
To their surprise, the flight actually arrived a few minutes ahead of schedule. After the old friends exchanged greetings and loading the luggage, they were on their way to Tahlequah. “How far is it to Tahlequah?” Mike asked as Allen merged onto the expressway.
“A little over an hour,” Allen said. “Do you want to stop and get something to eat on the way?”
“We got some food on our layover in Denver,” Carla answered from the back seat. “I’m not hungry.”
“I’m good too,” Mike said.
“Have you thought about what you’re going to say to Casey?” Allen asked, getting right to the point.
“Do you mean after I kill him?” Mike almost yelled.
“Look, it’s not our business, but I think you need to get past the marijuana and realize the trauma he has been through with the molestation,” Nancy calmly said.
“He knew how we felt about drugs after what happened to Dan,” Mike said.
“Listen at you,” Allen said. “Did you even hear what Nancy just said?”
“They’re right,” Carla said as she reached forward and put her hand on her husband’s shoulder. “We have to realize what Casey has been through.”
“Damn it, Carla he used dope,” Mike fired back. “He knew how I felt about dope. I’m going to have that son-of-a-bitch arrested for giving my son dope.”
“Mike, have you not heard anything we said?” Allen asked as he looked at a raging Mike. “Your son was molested, for God’s sake. He’s hurting because of that. You’ll destroy him if you don’t see that.”
The car was silent for a good five minutes when Mike finally said, “Yeah, you’re right. I’ll do what I have to do to help my son.”
“I’ll sleep on the couch and you take my room so your mom and dad can have the guest room,” Jeremy said after Casey said he was sleepy and ready for bed.
“No I’ll just bunk with you like old times,” Casey said, and then added with a grin. “But, you had better stay on your side of the bed.”
“Like I would to try anything with someone as homely as you,” Jeremy teased back. They were friends again almost as they had been in the past.
Jeremy woke to the aroma of bacon coming from the kitchen. He turned to wake Casey but saw wide open eyes looking back at him. “Are you ready for breakfast?” He asked.
“I think I’ll just stay in bed all day,” Casey said, dreading having to face his parents.
“You can’t stay here in bed forever,” Jeremy said. “Besides, I know Mon and Dad will have already talked to them. They are on your side, you know.”
“I know,” Casey said. “But, Dad is very strict about drugs after what happened to Uncle Dan.”
Both of Casey’s parents hugged him and told him that everything would be okay as he sobbed. Jeremy knew that these tears were tears of relief.
After breakfast and the kitchen cleaned by the boys, Mike said, “Casey, I think we need to talk.”
“You can use the den, and if you need anything we’ll be right here,” Nancy said.
“This is a family discussion,” Carla said. “You are family and we would like for you to join us.”
“Casey, what happened?” Mike asked, although he pretty well knew the answer.
Casey retold his story as Carla wiped tears from her eyes and Mike sat silently.
When Casey had finished his story, Allen asked, “Have you contacted the police about this?”
“Yes,” Mike said. “They said that Casey would have to testify in court since there was no physical evidence after this time.”
“No Dad,” Casey wailed. “I can’t. Everyone will know.”
“Honey, I know it’s hard for you,” Carla said as she hugged Casey. “But, we have to put that horrible man away.”
“But Mom, I can’t,” Casey protested.
“Son, you have to do this or he will go free,” Mike said.
“Maybe not,” Jeremy said. “Does he know that the police know?”
“No, the police are waiting until they can take Casey’s statement before they make the arrest. They feel the judge will set his bond higher,” Mike explained.
“If he doesn’t know, then you have to get him to confess without him knowing,” Jeremy said.
“How do you propose that they do that?” Allen asked.
“Casey, has he tried anything with you since that first time?” Jeremy asked.
“Yes, but some friends came by and he went back inside,” Casey said. “After that I never went outside unless friends were there.”
“When you get back have the police wire you with a microphone,” Jeremy said. “Go outside and shoot some baskets or something. When he approaches you can get a recording of him.”
“No, that could be too dangerous for Casey,” Carla worried.
“No Mom, I’d rather do that than testify in court,” Casey said.
“But you still may have to testify,” Carla said.
“But, he would never confess without evidence,” Mike said. “Could you pull this off, Son?”
“I have to,” Casey said.
“I think it is too dangerous,” Carla said. “He could discover the microphone and hurt Casey.”
“The police could be inside your house and listen,” Jeremy said. “Detectives don’t wear uniforms and he would just think you had company, especially if it was a male and female detective.”
“I suppose it would be better than him having to testify,” Carla said as she began to buy into the plan.
Carla and Nancy began preparations for the next day’s Thanksgiving dinner and Jeremy wanted to reintroduce Casey to the horses.
“Are you going to call Cody to come and ride with us?”
“No they went to Oklahoma City to his relatives there.”
“Good, I don’t think he liked me very well.”
“Well you were kind of an ass.”
“Yeah, I guess I was.”
Jeremy took Casey to see many of his favorite places and he saw that Casey was more relaxed than the on previous ride. They enjoyed the ride and each other’s company until a cold November light rain began to fall. They hurried back to the barn, fed and brushed the horses and then joined their fathers in watching a football game.
“Dinner is ready if you guys can pry yourselves from that football game long enough to eat,” Nancy said.
They seated themselves at the dining room table with its extra leaf to accommodate the guest as well as all the food.
“Annie, would you like to say a blessing?” Nancy asked.
“I’ll sing the Cherokee song of thanksgiving if that’s okay,” Annie offered.
“That would be wonderful,” Nancy said.
“That was beautiful,” Carla said. “Cherokee is a very beautiful language.”
“It’s very difficult to learn,” Jeremy said. “Annie has been trying to teach me.”
“You’re learning,” Annie smiled. “Don’t give up.”
Thanksgiving dinner was superb. In addition to the traditional Thanksgiving foods, Annie brought a sweet potato pie and kanuchi. “You may not like kanuchi,” Annie explained. “But, I wanted you to experience some traditional Cherokee food while you are here.”
“What is kanuchi?” Casey asked.
“It’s a soup made from hickory nuts and hominy,” Annie said. “I put honey in mine.”
“I’ll try some,” Casey said, not wanting to offend Annie.
“If you don’t like it, don’t eat it,” Annie said. “Not everyone that tries it likes it.”
“This isn’t bad,” Casey said as he ate the kanuchi.
“You won’t offend me if you don’t like it,” Annie said.
“No, really,” Casey said. “It’s pretty good.”
“You can do it,” Jeremy assured Casey as they said their goodbyes at the airport. “You’ll be nervous, but he’ll just think it’s because you’re nervous around him.”
“Wish me luck,” Casey said as he turned to go through the security check point.