Gay Boys In Catholic School Pt 6

“So what if I was in love with another boy. I was committed to Jesse and he was the only one I’ve been with since I moved here. He was the only one in this world who truly appreciated me for who I am.”

Part 5

*****

I don’t know how I got through the next couple of weeks.

Thursday was the first day of finals. I tried to force myself to go to school but I broke down in first period. My teacher sent me to the office, and Mr. Peabody ushered me into his cubicle for a talk. The school psychologist was buzzed in too. Half an hour later I was told to go home and not worry about my tests. They would square them away with all my teachers.

I went home, undressed and went back to bed. It gave me comfort to be here and even now the sweetness of our union lingered. I awoke hours later to my father screaming at me. He said the principal had phoned him to verify that I was exempt from my finals.

“What the hell is this bullshit about you going through some fucking hardship and being too overwhelmed by personal issues to sit through exams?”

“Huh?” For those blessed few milliseconds before wakefulness I’d had peace, but Dad’s query brought it all back. He and Jillian were standing in my bedroom which shocked me because this was the first time she’d ever been in the house. I wanted to rage at him for his insensitivity and tears flooded my eyes.

“Mr. Peabody sent me home,” I stated, pulling my quilt up to cover myself to the chin. I was naked under the sheets and I didn’t want Jillian to see me. Dad’s expression added puzzlement to annoyance. “Didn’t you hear anything about the murder yesterday?”

“Oh, the Capps boy,” Jillian clarified slowly. “You knew him?”

Duh! What a stupid question considering the size of the school. But I wasn’t going to act rude because she was trying to be nice, even helping me out by reporting to my clueless father the news that had ignited fear and concern throughout the western valley. This was the first murder in Calberia in eighteen years. Every resident had learned of it except for him, obviously.

“Jesse was my best friend,” I said simply. I turned my head to the wall. Talking about him hurt too much.

Dad left me alone after that. It was both good and bad. He didn’t ask a bunch of useless questions about my feelings or harp on me for hiding or try to put two and two together on why I was so devastated over the death of someone who was just a friend. On the other hand, he didn’t come home any more often than before and nobody took care of me. I didn’t mind whether I ate or not. Showered or didn’t. Slept or couldn’t. I guess it didn’t matter to him that my world had fallen apart.

I was busy at first even if I never went back to school. I spent another two hours at the station speaking to the detectives on Jesse’s case, and they said to contact them if something came to mind. It was getting to the point where I wasn’t sure if the answers I gave were real or part of the nightmares that troubled me nightly.

Chad called me a couple of times to discuss his cousin, mostly to demand if Jesse had been happy. Of that I was positive, and I always answered yes. Chad talked as if he’d done something wrong, and I assured him that if Jesse wouldn’t listen to my advice he wouldn’t have taken his either. Sandra also called to check up on me. I kept my feelings more or less to myself because I couldn’t stop the self-blaming and I missed Jesse so much. The only help for me was… well, there was no help for me.

My emotions skittered widely from day to day, one moment to the next. Every morning I had a rare few seconds of peace before my memory kicked in to remind me that my lover was gone. A memory would come out of nowhere and level me, and guilt over the notes ate me alive. Sometimes the feelings were so physical, like the stony heat in my eyes when I couldn’t cry anymore or the giant lump sitting in my throat that I could barely swallow around. The only people I could have talked to who understood were Jesse’s family, and they were dealing with their own grief. It probably wasn’t healthy that I was on my own so much but I was getting used to it.

My high school graduation was the evening of June 14, nine days after Jesse’s death. It was also our four-month anniversary, but there was no longer a reason to celebrate or the person to share it with. The evening was supposed to be wonderful for Jesse and me with a big ceremony in the football stadium where we would be exiting high school and figuratively becoming adults. I had invited everyone in the family from both Calberia and Rancho Martinez. Jesse and I were looking forward to going to Grad Nite at Disneyland afterwards and wandering the theme park while I showed him all the newest rides. For once there would’ve been no fear of Calberia classmates knowing about us.

Instead, I went through the motions. The eighty-something seniors welcomed me, and everyone, even Mark Butler, was sporting navy blue ‘Justice 4 Jesse’ armbands. His killer hadn’t been caught yet… Mark had been thoroughly investigated for the crime but had an ironclad alibi that night… and Jesse’s friends didn’t want people to forget about him.

I didn’t think I was going to make it through the ceremony except that Jasmine, one of my English classmates, gave me half a Xanax tablet because she said I was probably going nuts with stress and half a tab would take the edge off without putting me to sleep. She and another girl ran me through a quick rehearsal of how to walk and when to sit and stand because I missed all the practices. By that time the Xanax was kicking in, and it actually felt good to just dump the pain for awhile. I probably would have sailed through if the school hadn’t made such a big deal about Jesse not being alive to get his diploma.

Speeches by the principal, his dance teacher and some student Jesse didn’t even spend time with on what a great leader he’d been and how hard he worked. What a nice, respectful boy he was, and how students looked up to him and teachers enjoyed having him in class. Praising Jesse’s talent as a dancer and actor and why the world was a better place for him being in it, even for a short while. Everyone’s attention was drawn to the ‘Justice 4 Jesse’ bands to remind them that the criminal was still at large.

By the time his tearful sister came forward to accept his posthumous diploma, my overwhelmed emotions were climbing up my throat. Every sentiment repeatedly pounded into my brain that Jesse was dead. I must have looked as if I was having a nervous breakdown. Wanting to escape, all I could do was put my head down so no one would see me crying. My fellow students were not only grieving over Jesse themselves but freaking out over my bereavement, and I was suddenly in the middle of a large knot of hugs and words of comfort.

Other than finally graduating the only thing I noticed was my guests. Dad and Jillian, Carl and Elaine, of course, but much to my amazement, my mother actually showed up. Without informing me, she flew in at two and spent the afternoon with my uncle— her brother— giving me no chance to talk to her other than a quick hello after the ceremony ended. She left for the airport before the ink was dry on my diploma, airily claiming that she had to get back to Rancho Martinez because Roxie and Suzie were having a huge end-of-school overnight the following evening. So much planning to do and so many things to buy, but it was going to be the party of parties for her girls. She kissed me on the cheek and told me to have fun at college.

Carl saw her off to her car and returned fifteen minutes later. “Some people never change, I guess.” He meant it as an apology, maybe for being related.

“Yeah, well, at least she showed up.”

“Did she?” he scoffed. “I’m surprised she found it in her heart to even make the effort.”

I gasped. That was probably the harshest thing he’d ever said about his sister.

“I’m sorry,” he apologized, walking up and giving me a gentle hug. “Are you okay? You look like shit.”

No, I was never going to be okay. But I faked a smile and tried to joke, “Sure, Uncle Carl. It’s all the pomp and circumstance and realizing I’m out of high school. I’m still coming to terms with this being alone crap.”

Alone. Forever without my baby.

Jesse’s funeral was held on Saturday afternoon, two days later. We met at the Eternal Valley mortuary, because only an outside venue was large enough to handle the crowds. The whole school was there. Hell, almost the entire population of Calberia was there.

Everyone was bubbling with the news. Jesse’s killer had been caught.

It was Mitchell Butler, Mark’s older brother, who murdered Jesse. For some reason that only mental illness and drug abuse could explain, Mitchell had been fixated on the younger boy all through high school. He’d been Jesse’s chief bully up until our junior year, the same year Mitchell had graduated. But with his departure, Jesse had made the vow to himself to stop letting people push him around.

No, he couldn’t stop the words that jerks like the Butler brothers used against him, but he could control how he reacted. His first mistake, if you will, was ignoring the bullying, and when Mark complained to Mitchell that Jesse didn’t care what he said anymore, the older boy decided to make him care. But just as Jesse wouldn’t pay attention to verbal threats, he didn’t pay attention to the written ones either. By the time June rolled around, Mitchell was enraged enough to become dangerous. He decided that Jesse needed to learn a lesson.

Unfortunately, what was supposed to be a simple threat with a knife went too far. We would never know why Mitchell became so frenzied that he plunged the blade into Jesse’s chest. Afraid that he was going to start yelling and wake people up, Mitchell stabbed Jesse again and again and again, leaving him to die in the dirt.

I stood silent and tearless as I heard the tale from Kwan and Mi Kyong Park. I thanked them for telling me and made my way across the grass to where a brushed-steel casket sat on a bier surrounded by flowers. Jesse’s framed senior portrait was on a tripod next to the coffin with more flowers. I couldn’t look at it.

What difference did knowing who killed Jesse make other than to assure the killer was punished? Nothing would bring Jesse back. Mitchell was just another homophobic bastard who had used deadly force against his gay victim. Lots of people died from gay bashing. Jesse was the only one who mattered to me.

Crowds began to arrive. I was hanging back alone and scanning groups of attendees, recognizing many from school. Jenna Capps saw me and pointed me out to her mother. The next thing I knew, they were drawing me forward and telling me to sit with them in their row.

The ceremony was short and sad, but I wasn’t listening. I don’t think I cried one tear. Perhaps I was all dried out or my crying was done by the hundreds of others who couldn’t stop. I stared at the little memorandum in my hand that put Jesse’s life into a series of statistics. Date of birth, date of death, his picture and a poem about death. He was so much more than that, but how could I make anyone understand?

The time came when the pastor asked people to say a few words about him, and I couldn’t. I wanted to but I knew nothing I’d utter would make Jesse real to them in the way he was to me. I wasn’t able to explain the strangled words of longing that were in my heart. At the end, people walked forward to give their condolences and I heard a thousand versions of “I’m sorry” until I wanted to scream.

I returned home in the late afternoon, and my father was there with Jillian. She was biting her lip but I saw sympathy and anxiety on her face. Dad just looked angry as usual.

“I have been getting quite a few comments from people around the area whom I respect,” he huffed. “They say you have been carrying on obsessively over the Capps boy’s death.”

“What is that supposed to mean?” I asked sullenly. “I’m not allowed to mourn Jesse?”

Jillian put a hand on Dad’s arm. “Perhaps this isn’t the best time to discuss this,” she said, her voice placating and compassionate. “It’s been a rough week and a half for Shane, Ken.”

He wasn’t paying attention. “There is nothing wrong with mourning when it’s done quietly, in a way that doesn’t draw attention. Crying and falling apart at a public ceremony reflects badly on you and me.”

“Dad, I wish you would try to understand. Please just listen.”

I felt wrung out. The person I loved with all my being was now rotting in a grave, and all he was worried about was morals and his standing in the community. Just for once I needed him to see things from my point of view.

Jillian tried to intervene again and turned to Dad with a warning in her voice. “It would be best if you backed off. Let it go for now before you say something you’ll both regret.”

My dad was obstinate if anything and he glared at me. “No, I want to hear what he has to say. Explain.”

“Jesse meant the world to me, Dad,” I whispered. “He was my best friend… well actually, my only real friend here in Calberia. You have no idea how lonely I’ve been since Mom kicked me out and made me move up here. Took me away from my old life and forced into a strange school five fucking months before graduation. And now Jesse is dead because of some asshole kid with a grudge and a knife.”

“He was your boyfriend,” Dad snapped. “Don’t lie.”

“Ken, don’t,” Jillian warned again. Her eyes pleaded with me to stay quiet, but I was done with lying and hiding.

“Yes, he was my boyfriend, Dad. I loved him. What do you want me to say?”

“I want you to tell me why you’re fucking around with some gay kid when I explicitly told you I wouldn’t stand for it when you moved in,” he raged.

I trembled in my shoes before his fury, but I was at the edge of my endurance. My eyes stung with exhausted tears and my heart felt like lead in my chest. I was so tired of being judged by ignorant people and found lacking. The worst was when it came from those who were supposed to care about me.

“Fucking around? I’m bi, Dad. That’s all. I’m not sick, I’m not perverted and I didn’t do anything to make myself this way. What is the matter with all of you? Loving Jesse isn’t a crime any more than being bisexual means I’m a monster, so why does everyone hate on us so much? People like you and Mom are no better than Mitchell inside, you just hide it better. Instead of threats and violence, you call me names and criticize, and not once since Jesse died have you even tried to understand how I feel.”

My breathing was coming out in harsh gasps, and my voice was squeaking several octaves higher than I normally spoke, but I was on a roll. All the pain and loneliness, the despair over being dumped in Calberia with nobody in my corner, I had been holding inside of me for way too long. How it felt to find someone at last who loved me for who I was, and then to have him cruelly stolen from me came pouring out. I couldn’t stop it.

“So what if I was in love with another boy. I was committed to Jesse and he was the only one I’ve been with since I moved here. He was the only one in this world who truly appreciated me for who I am. Jesse was the kindest, most loving person I have ever met, and we weren’t hurting anybody. I can’t help who I fall for. It’s biological, just like you love Jillian and Mom loves Whit. He was…”

My explanation ended in a roar from my father’s open mouth, and I cringed, afraid of his wrath. Like some kind of wild man, he regarded me with bulging eyes and his mouth in a snarl, and I knew enough to shut up. He really was no better than Jesse’s murderer. Like having blinders pulled from my eyes, I knew Dad would never appreciate how hard this was, how empty my life had become since Jesse’s death. I felt like my whole world was imploding.

“Never mind, forget it,” I said in a low voice and turned away to slump off to my bedroom.

“Come back here, Shane.” And when I kept moving, his tone became demanding. “I said, get the hell back here.”

My ass was saved by Jillian who grabbed her purse and stormed out the door a second later. I only heard her angry, muffled voice yelling, “I can’t believe how insensitive you are to your own son, Ken,” the slam of the door and then my dad going after her to plead his case. They were outside for a good ten minutes of loud arguing before she backed out of the driveway with a squeal of tires and took off down the street. It must have distracted him enough because when he came back inside he left me alone.

I sat in my dark bedroom, moving around in nonsense circles of emotion, aimless and aching for Jesse. I had given up everything for our future, and now it was over. I had even dreamed about it, apart from my nightly nightmares of Jesse’s death. Seeing myself, standing on the end of a long plank over a black pit where every foot represented a loss in my life. Mom, Dad, Jesse.

My conversation with Dad made it painfully obvious that I wasn’t going to be welcomed at my father’s for much longer. My secret was out; I had clearly been ‘fucking around’ with a boy for awhile, and Dad had to realize that part of it was his lack of supervision. What was he going to do? Babysit me to keep me on the straight and narrow? No, I had graduated from high school, so it was a matter of time before he used our relationship as the reason to kick me out like my mother had done five months earlier.

That left me with one unenviable solution which was to try to convince Mom to let me move back in. I didn’t want to, not really, and I wasn’t sure how I would manage it with her lack of concern and evident disapproval of me. I desperately needed to get away from Calberia because everywhere I went was a place I had shared life with Jesse, and it hurt so bad to be reminded of it. I didn’t want to appear desperate but I might even have to throw myself on her mercy.

I called her Sunday evening around 7:30.

“Shane,” Mom squawked in uneasy surprise when she answered her cell for a change. “Where are you?”

Thinking at first it was an odd question right off the bat, it suddenly clicked that she must not be at home and was afraid I was back in town. “Still in Calberia at Dad’s.”

“Oh… good.” She didn’t have to act so relieved. “So what do you need?”

My mouth went dry. I knew she was going to refuse me. But what other choice was there but to ask.

“Listen, Shane,” she interrupted impatiently. “I’m expected an important call from Whit any second. You need to tell me what you want.” Her attitude made me angry because I could tell she didn’t want to talk to me. She never did.

“Um, Mom, I don’t know if you were listening at my graduation. Well, maybe you were… You know, what was said… About what happened to that kid who went to school up here and died. Jesse Capps.”

“Well, yes, Shane, I did listen,” she replied calmly. “It even made the news down here after they caught the killer. An older brother of a classmate, right?”

I decided to get it done with. “Mom, Jesse was my best friend. I can’t stand living up here anymore. It’s all too much. Can I please come home?”

There was a moment of complete silence, and I almost thought she’d hung up. “According to your father, you and this Jesse boy were more than just friends. Didn’t we talk about this in January? That was the whole reason you moved to Calberia. Why would I want you back here after that?”

Damn, I was crying again. “Because… I, uh… Mom, it’s complicated… I wish you…”

The more I tried to plod through an answer, the more I sounded like a whiny kid. I gathered my wits about me to work at sounding lucid. “Because I’m your son, and you’re supposed to love me, even when I mess up.”

She gasped angrily at that, but just like with Dad, I needed to speak up in my defense. “I know you hate that I’m bi. It’s not like I moved up to Calberia with some devious plan to go against you, but I loved Jesse. I met him and fell in love with him. Now he’s gone, I’m stuck here and I can’t stand it.”

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16 thoughts on “Gay Boys In Catholic School Pt 6

  1. Lonewolf69 says:

    Since the Beginning of this story I almost knew that this would end Tragically. Having experienced this kind of LOSS, my self I can Relate to the Depth of Shanes(Ones) Grief. Although Not my First love or Lover, it shattered this ” Rock of Gibralter. ”
    For Shane it was Exceptionally Hard Not having a Supportive family and being that Jesse was his First and ONE TRUE love that he wanted to build a Life with the loss was and can be overwhelming especially when it is a Young first Love. THAT hurts beyond belief. I haven’t read the Afterlife part of this Story and will do so now. Yes I do believe in an afterlife and Our religious Beliefs tells us that Suicide is a mortal sin, BUT The UNDERLYING theme in ANY RELIGION is LOVE, Honest , TRUE, UN Hurting NAKED LOVE for oneanother . LOVE TRUMPS ALL. Remember that I have not read any Comments as of yet. and I will give my Unabashed dissertation on them collectively.

  2. Mike says:

    Thank you for embracing the reality of what happens to many gay teens. While washed over with grief at the end, it left me even more grateful for the strength many of us summon to endure and survive. Relieved of their suffering, and together again, it allowed me to be more cognizant of the many kids who aren’t loved, and more determined to not allow any I come in to contact with to see ending their life as a solution. Thank you.

  3. darryl gupton says:

    I agree with JU. Suicide is NOT the way out, even though he got Jesse again (fiction) is not reality. And while none of us know what the afterlife will be like…(and we would all love to think as the writer wrote…a happy ending with two lovers reunited after murder and then suicide…makes me sick to my stomach). I know I should have stopped reading before now. Ugh.

  4. Onyx says:

    I’m quite religious and I resent that you give ‘blissful hearafter’ ending to such a story. This is dangerous to present to potentially vulnerable teens/young-adults. Since we don’t know what happens to suicide victims. Additionally I consider it rather insensitive for you to not announce that this story is a tragedy. I hear enough pain in real news and don’t appreciate being duped into this that you seems to think is entertainment. I want you to know that this is horrible and I hope you don’t post anything else like this.

  5. Rick Daley says:

    This story really was something that tore my heart. It took my soul for a ride yesterday that I couldn’t imagine. Today, it tore my heart even more. Truly a sad loss for both of these young men.

  6. Bill says:

    After reading some of the other comments on this story, I felt I wanted to add another comment. I think we all knew what Shane planned to do by taking the boat out alone. I had hoped that the author would perhaps have chosen another way to end this story – perhaps to have Shane lean mote on his aunt and uncle AND on Jillian, his father’s girl friend who seemed to realize what he was going through. Teenage years are complicated and for a gay teenager even more so because real relationships are so hard to come by and hit one so hard and so deeply. I will probably come back to this story and read it again when I’m a little more in control of my feelings. I do understand the comments here and the feelings that we all wish the author had found another way to end this story in making his point. Relationships in real life don’t always end on a happy note and often on a tragic one. Like most of you, I feel shaken to my core right now… but I’m at peace knowing that Shane and Jesse are together…again.

  7. Penfire says:

    Knew Shane was going to do that after the rejection from his mom and dad. If you cann call them that. Hope they now realize what jerks they were and that their actions made Shane take his life.

  8. Robbie says:

    I believe Shane’s Uncles kinda knew what was going to happen especially when author discribed Shane’s appearance. I thought Shane’s closure would be going to the jail to speak to the killer, but when he said he went to go out on a boat and I said he’s going to kill himself sad yes and his parents will not feel hurt or any pain‼️ Greatest and tragic story on UDATZ‼️

  9. Alex says:

    I cried through this entire chapter. I worried when Shane asked to take the boat out. And what I suspected was true. What a shame Shane’s parents were so prejudice and unloving. The loss of Shane’s life was more tragic than Jesse’s in some ways. As sad as it is though, life does go on. Although there will always be a scar as a reminder, new and good things do come out in life. I’m sorry the story took this turn. The LGBQT community could have been a big help to him. Also there were other people that could have hugged him and shown him love. Sad ending yes, but well written

  10. John says:

    I was expecting Shane to die.
    I hope his Parents feel so much pain. But the way they are it’s doubtful. They will blame him!
    Good Story
    True Ending

  11. Nick says:

    What a tragic yet beautiful story. I am utterly exhausted from reading it.
    So well written! I hope, dear author, that you have been published elsewhere. Your talent needs to be shared well beyond Udatz!

  12. JU says:

    Ok, I want to be the first to comment to every gay/bi young or old person, this is a beautiful work of FICTION.
    SUICIDE IS NEVER THE ANSWER to a problem/situation. No matter how great the hurt or the depth of your pain always seek help, friend, family, neighbor, professional. NEVER NEVER NEVER succumb to the thoughts of suicide.
    This story is NOT an example to follow it is FICTION.

  13. Bill says:

    This was indeed a difficult story to read and probably to write. I guess, this is one way to point out how intolerance and hatred can destroy lives. Well written and brutally honest in the portrayal of the young lovers. It’s too bad that intolerant parents with LGBTQ children will probably never see and read this – although, in retrospect, they are mostly too stupid to realize the message in this story. I fell in love with Shane and Jesse as did many other readers here…

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