September 14 2005
After going through all the back-story with mom and dad, they had a few questions, and I must say that I don’t blame them.
“So, do you think people at school are going to know about you and Derrick?” Dad asked as gently as possible.
I decided to be frank, “I wouldn’t be surprised if the whole goddamn state has found out by now.”
“Tommy!” mom quickly shouted.
“Sorry mom.” Swearing was one of the few poorer habits I was getting from Derrick.
“We’ll I just pray everything works out for the best,” dad added.
“Tommy, you said you loved him…are you sure?” mom asked.
“Derrick is the most amazing person I have ever met in my life. He’s like me in a lot of ways, but it’s the ways that we’re different that really make me love him. I remember hearing once that ‘Love is the soul’s recognition of its other half.’ He’s my other half mom. Yes, I do love him, with all my heart.”
“Well then Tommy, we’ll support both of you no matter what.”
“And if I may say so Tommy, you made a pretty nice choice,” dad added.
Even with this gunshot wound in my back, I still felt like the luckiest guy in the world. I have the love of the man of my dreams, and what I found perhaps the most surprising; I still have the love of my parents. Derrick wouldn’t be so lucky.
Mom and Dad left to get some lunch, and after about a half an hour, I was visited by the event which I knew would happen eventually. I tall man dressed in the regular police uniform of the Baraboo police department knocked on my door and asked if he could come in.
“Hi, you must be Tommy. My name’s officer Tim. Is it ok if I ask you a few questions about what happened a few nights ago.”
“Sure, but could you close the door on your way in.” He closed it gently as he pulled up a chair next to the bed.
“Well Tommy, you must be a little uncomfortable talking to me about this. Just so you know I was the one who interviewed your friend Derrick just after you got here. I’d like to start off with some questions about the night of December 20th. Do you remember where you went that night?”
“First of all officer, I do respect your delicacy with this issue, but I’m really fine with talking about it. But first I’d like to ask you a question.”
“How much is the press going to find out?”
“Well, it’s hard to say. If the person who did this is a minor, then the court documents might be sealed, might. But if it an adult, then the court records are pretty much going to be open to the public in an attempted homicide like this.”
“I was afraid of that.”
“You know, though, the sooner you can help us, the sooner we can catch the guy who did this.”
“I know.” I started with explaining Derrick and my “friendship,” then went on to talk about that day at the high school, including the redneck who stopped me in the halls, the finally everything I could remember about what happened after Derrick and I left the restaurant.
After he finished with the questioning, he thanked me for my time and told me he’d call as soon as anything came up.
Mom and dad still wouldn’t be back for a while, so decided on a quick nap.
“Is he asleep?” I heard a familiar voice say in a whisper.
“Well what do you think?” another familiar voice replied.
I was already starting to wake up from my afternoon nap, and I wasn’t going to pass up a chance to be with “my girls” as my mom so aptly named them back in high school.
“No, I’m not asleep, and what in God’s name are you doing up here, you should both be back home for the holidays.” I finally propped myself up onto my elbows so I could greet my two best female friends in the world.
“Well when we found out you were up here, what else were we supposed to do!?” Kallie so happily proclaimed.
“We had feeling you might be lonely, and it’s only a ten minute walk from the campus.” Angie added.
“What I meant was, what are you doing in Madison instead of going back home to your families back in Baraboo?”
“We were actually going to leave last night, but then we heard on the news about you and decided to stay another day,” Kallie replied.
Kallie and Angie were my two best female friends back in high school. They were both a little taller than me and full figured; Angie had long black hair, while Kallie had frizzy semi-blond. We always sat at lunch together and had very…interesting conversations every day during lunch with all the rest of my gal pals. Both of them went straight to UW Madison after high school.
“And what else could we have done to cheer you up, close your eyes.”
“Fine,” I grudgingly obeyed.
“Okay…now open.” Kallie said enthusiastically.
Before my eyes way an entire sampler box of various chocolates. The girls knew my one comfort food was milk chocolate in all its glorious forms.
“Girls, you didn’t have to do this.”
“Well of course we did,” Angie replied, “But you might want to be covert about this, we had to sneak it in.”
“Mum’s the word.” My thoughts quickly went back to what Kallie had said. “So it’s on the news already?”
“Yeah,” Angie replied, “It was on the ten o’clock news last night. They said a Derrick Stenson had been shot in the Dells and taken to University Hospital.”
“Did they explain why it happened?”
“They just said the ‘incident is still under police investigation’ what ever that means.”
“Girls, there’s something you should know about me.”
Kallie interrupted, “Tommy, we know your gay if that’s what you were gonna say.”
“How long?” was all I could come up with.
“Please, you sat a table surrounded by girls for a full year where we talked about things like ‘how much makeup is too much’. It was all pretty self explanatory.”
“Either you were gay, or you were gonna make some girl one hell of a husband some day,” Angie added.
“Thanks girls, it really means a lot to me that you’re here. Although I’m probable sure you’re dying to know all the juicy details about these past six months,” I said with a grin on my face.
“Well…we didn’t want to pry,” Kallie said sarcastically.
“Of course not. Well, it all started near the beginning of the school year…” They sat attentively for the next ten minutes as I gave them a brief overview of how I ended up in a hospital bed in Madison with a gunshot wound.
“Well Tommy, it sounds like you got yourself a nice catch, Derrick’s a pretty hot guy if you don’t mind me saying.” Kallie added when I finished.
Of course I didn’t mind, a guy likes to be reminded every now and then that he’s got one of the hottest guys in school after him.
“Well girls, I really appreciate you stopping by, thanks again so much.”
“You rest up now. Eemember you’ve got to be in top condition when you come to Madison next year. We need someone to help us scrape by on our math homework,” Angie added as she gave me a big hug. I hugged Kallie too, thanked them both for the chocolates, and waved goodbye. I’m lucky to have friends like them.
Mom and Dad stopped by again and stayed for a little while. Mom was always adjusting and fluffing my pillow to make absolutely sure I was comfortable. Dad and I just smirked and shoo our heads. The doctor came in just as they were about to leave.
“Oh. I’m glad I caught you all together. I just wanted to tell you that we’ve made arrangements to transfer Tommy back to St. Clair Hospital back in Baraboo. He can start his physical therapy there.”
My parents each thanked the doctor and headed back to their hotel. I was left alone again with my own thoughts.
The one person I had wanted to see the most hadn’t come. I was beginning to worry about Derrick. I wonder how he got home. I wonder how he got here. He probably just drove; it’s only a forty minute drive. I hope that’s it.
I tried to fall asleep, but it just wasn’t working. They eased me off on the morphine, so now I only added it when I needed to. I really could have used some right now, but not to quell the pain in my back. Mom and dad always warned me about addictions, so I knew well enough not to start taking the morphine when I dint really need it.
But what’s the harm in a few drops? I pushed to button next to my bed which released a small amount of morphine into my IV. I could feel its calming effects instantly. The tenderness in my back was gone, and I felt a little more at ease. But despite this drugging, I still couldn’t get to sleep. I had been diagnosed a few years ago with a sleeping disorder and went on antidepressants for half a year. It worked pretty well. I wished I had some of those now. Too many questions were bugging me right now.
God, I just couldn’t sleep, if I couldn’t see him I had to at lest hear his voice. I resolved to grab the phone next to the bed and dialed Derrick’s home. It was only about 7:30, so it wasn’t too late by politeness standards.
The phone rang several times before the gruff voice that I recognized as his mother answered. “Hello?”
“Hi…um is Derrick there?”
“Who is this?”
“Tell him it’s Tommy.”
“So…this is Tommy huh?” I could sense something seriously wrong in her tone. It was much too snobbish. “This is the boy who turned my wonderful son into a fag.” I could tell this wasn’t going to end well. At least this time, sixty miles separated me and a bigot.
“Can I at least speak to him, please?”
“I’m sorry, but Derrick isn’t here now.”
“Could I at least leave message.” Even if I did, I doubted it would reach Derrick.
“I’m sorry, you must’ve misunderstood me. Derrick doesn’t live here anymore.”
“That’s right. The boy you want to talk to is not my son. My son died several days ago, and I have you to thank for that.”
“You don’t mean he’s actually…” I couldn’t bring myself to say the words as if that would make it true.
“He is to me.”
The only sound after that was the dial tone of the phone which sat on the floor after falling from my hands.