“I bet you’ve got a lot of catching up to do. We’ll leave alone for a while,” mom said as she ushered dad and Ty out the door and closed it behind her.
I sat stunned with disbelief as Derrick immediately rushed to my bedside, wrapped his arms around me, and began crying into my shoulder.
“Oh God Tommy, I was so afraid…something happened to you. I wanted to stay…but I had no place to go. I’m just so glad…all right,” was what I could make out between the sobs. I placed my hands on the sides of his head, brought him face to face with me, and pulled him into the longest, most passionate kiss we had ever shared. It was incredible, the great deal of longing we had for each other after only a few days apart. I felt deja vous from the very first time we kissed three months ago in that fateful band room.
After the fervor had died down, I admitted to Derrick, “Derrick, I was so damn worried about you. I was scared something terrible had happened.”
“I’m so sorry baby. I tried to get a hold of you, but by the time I got back to the hospital, they said you had already transferred and…”
“It wasn’t just that,” I interjected, “I was so worried I called your house and spoke to…”
“My mom,” he interjected this time. “I want to tell you all about that.”
“I’ve got the time,” I said motioning to the giant hospital bed I was lying down in.
“Okay. When you were shot, they couldn’t treat you here, so they med-flighted you to Madison, and they let me ride along with. After the surgery, I stayed in the room for an hour or so and waited for your parents to arrive. I wanted to leave them alone with you, so I headed back to Baraboo to have a long overdue talk with mom.”
I was right; he had come out to her. I’m just glad he survived the ordeal.
“So I went home and, of course, she was worried sick since it was about 1 a.m. when I actually got home. She started shooting questions at me, ‘Where was I?’, ‘Why was I so late?’ and probably the hardest to explain ‘Why was there blood on my shirt?’”
“So how did you explain that?”
“I told her the truth, everything. I told her about us, I told her about how long we’ve been secretly going out, and I told her how much I loved you,” he grabbed on of my hand and gently squeezed it as he said the last part.
“I take it she didn’t like the news very well.”
“Well what all did she tell you?”
“She told me as far as she was concerned, you didn’t exist anymore and that it was all my fault.”
“That bitch.” My sentiments exactly. “What happened was after I admitted everything, she told me to get out of her house. Of course, I’m paraphrasing, what she actually said would make a sailor flinch. God, I just never expected my mom to be so hateful; and to her only son!”
“What did you do?”
“I did just what she asked, I wasn’t going to argue more and let the fight escalate. I packed a few bags full of my clothes and other crap, loaded up my car, and left.”
“But you’re not even eighteen yet! She can’t just kick you out!”
“I’m only seventeen for a few more days, after that, she can legally kick me out.”
“Where did you go after all this?”
“Back to you. The problem was, by the time I got back to Madison, visiting hours hadn’t started. So I waited in my car in the parking lot until everything opened up. By then, however, they said you had already been transferred. So I drove all the way back to Baraboo. When I got to the front desk of the hospital, though, they said only immediate family could be allowed in. I was just about to give up and go somewhere to collect my thoughts when I ran into your parents heading out the door.”
“I imagine that must have been a bit awkward.”
“Hell yeah, especially since I didn’t know whether or not you had come out to them yet. Your mom must have seen me, thought, since she stopped right as they were about to leave, ran over to me and stopped right in front of me. This is kind of how it went:
‘You’re Derrick, right?’ she said as she started to tear up. Your dad came over immediately. I was scared to death he might pummel me, since I thought he might hold me responsible for what happened to you. I was shocked when he actually offered his hand and shook mine.
‘It’s nice to meet you Derrick. I don’t know if you know who we are but…’
‘Your Tommy’s parents, aren’t you?’ I said. ‘Look, about what happened to Tommy, I can’t begin to start apologizing for…’
‘For what?’ your dad cut me off, ‘It’s not you fault this happened. We don’t hold you to blame at all.’
Your mom finally spoke up, ‘We just thank God you’re both all right.’ And she pulled me into hug.”
Needless to say, I was surprised at the sheer luck of him running into my parents at the perfect time.
“Tommy, I hope you know how lucky you are to have such great, loving parents. In fact, when I told them what happened between me and my mom, they actually offered to…” he paused for a moment.
“They offered to what?”
“Tommy, they offered to take me in.”
“WHAT!” This completely caught me off guard. I had never expected even the greatest parents in the world to offer to take in their son’s gay lover after their son was shot and his lover gone homeless.
“I know! That’s what I said. They told me it would only be until this fall. You know, when we both go off to UW Madison.”
“Wow. I had no idea they would’ve done something like that. They must really like you”
“Or they just really like you and want to see you happy. Any idea how I could thank them?”
“I’m sure we’ve got a few chores around the house we could always use a little extra help with.” Dad was standing in the doorway with mom close behind him.
“Oh come on,” she gave dad a light nudge in the side, “Don’t worry about it. Just seeing Tommy truly happy for the first time in a long while is payment enough. Do you mind though if we speak to Tommy alone for a moment?”
“Of course not.” Derrick was leaning in to kiss me goodbye when he caught himself. He was still little uncomfortable with public affection, even around mom and dad. Instead he gave my hand a gentle squeeze and said, “I’ll be waiting right outside.”
After Derrick left, mom closed the door and came to sit by my bed.
“Now Tommy, I know this is going to be a little weird, what with Derrick staying with us for a while, but there’s some things we wanted to talk with you about first. You see, I know you’re probably uncomfortable talking with us about this, but we don’t know at what kind of level your relationship is at.”
She was right; I was scared to death about talking with my parents about sex, much less a kind they might not really understand.
“And don’t worry Tommy,” dad said noticing and filling the uncomfortable pause, “we’re not going to judge you or anything. Your an adult and you hae the right to make these choices. We just want to get an idea of what’s going on between the two of you right now.”
“To be honest, Derrick and I have been…intimate together several times before. In terms of sex, though, we haven’t gone what would be considered all the way.”
“Okay, that’s all we needed to know,” mom said. “Just to be clear though, I do have a few ground rules I’d like you two to follow. Number one, I know you love Derrick very much, and it’s impossible for me to ask you two not to be intimate, but please, no sex in the house, and if and when you do someplace else in the future, please be as safe as possible. Number two, I know there are a lot of bigoted people out there, and if at any time Derrick’s living here poses a threat to our family’s safety, he’s out. I pray to God that doesn’t happen, but should it, we would spring to put him up in a hotel room or something.”
“Okay, anything else?”
“Just one more thing. Derrick seems like a good kid, and I know that you love him and he makes you happy. So I want you to promise me that should anything bad happen between the two of you that you won’t do anything irrational. Just remember that you’ll always have your friends and family to help.”
“I promise mom…and thanks, you have no idea how much this means to me.”
“Well, I suppose we should take Derrick back to the house and see if we can’t turn that basement room into a bedroom,” dad said as he and mom began moving to the door.
“Mom, dad, can I ask you one more thing before you go?”
“Of course Tommy, what is it?” mom asked.
“You know that whole falling out thing between Derrick and his mom when he came out to her…how come that didn’t happen to us.”
“I think I can answer that one,” dad said as he sat down on the edge of my bed, “When you were born, I remember the first time I held you in my arms. It was the happiest moment of my life. That day I made promise to you and to God. I looked into your eyes and I said, ‘Tommy, my son, I promise I will love you forever, no matter what’”
“Thanks dad.” I reached out and hugged him and gave mom a kiss goodbye.
I was the luckiest kid in the world…for now.