Gospel and Epistle
I called Eleanor and
asked her to hurry on up.
Brandt stepped in to the
rescue, because I was suddenly overwhelmed with the immediacy of what I
needed to do. He changed our flight and hotel reservations, made some calls
to find local resources, not much we could use, but at least some numbers to
call if we needed it.
Then Brandt went to his
place and stayed there to wait for Matteus to appear.
Matteus showed that
afternoon, distraught, hoping to find Will, so Brandt gathered him under
wing and shepherded him off to a coffee shop, where he extracted a full
confession including home address.
Matteus was tearful,
painfully aware of the price of his deception.
“I was not understanding
he doesn’t know this, at first, no one else will think I am nineteen. So
when I am finally knowing he thinks I am older, I was going to tell him when
we had coffee the first time.”
“But when he tells me his
story I know he won’t like a boy for his lover, so I didn’t tell him. I was
thinking he will not want to me see if I tell him this. Besides he needed
something else then so I did for him, what he needs.”
Brandt called me to find
out whether he should bring Matteus to the hotel.
Thing about Paul, he
always knew exactly how to handle me.
Probably sounds funny,
but you know I thought a lot about all the shit I gave him. He thought he
made mistakes and then I’d fuck up because of them, but he was all wrong
about that. I’d have fucked up just as bad or worse, no matter what he did.
He knew how to handle me when I did. I’d missed that, someone to keep me in
He came down to the lobby
and took me up to his room.
I started to tell him the
whole thing about Matteus. I told him the asshole was fifteen, not nineteen.
I started to tell him
anyway, and he seemed puzzled about it then he stopped me from saying
anything. He held his hand over my mouth, hugged me tight close to him, set
me down in a chair, knelt on the floor in front of me.
“Will, are you thinking
about hurting yourself?” It was just like old times.
I was glad his hotel was
before I got to the canal, or I’d have jumped in first.
We took a vote about
bringing Matteus to the hotel; Will voted no, I voted yes. The yeas had it.
Matteus looked at me
pleading as Will sulked, face down on the bed.
“Please, Paul tell him
this does not matter. When he is fifteen he has many older men, what is
wrong with this, I know he loves me!”
I almost laughed. I’d
have been thrilled, when he was fifteen, for him to have limited himself to
a single nineteen-year-old. On the other hand, I’d lectured him often and
well about the need to respect age differences.
“Matteus, I am not sure
anything I say can make a difference here. I am sure he loves you, I know he
does, in fact. But this is a difficult thing for him, as you can see.”
I wasn’t sure the age of
consent in Holland, but I thought it was twelve or fifteen, certainly it was
no more than sixteen. The boy had eventually to deal with family, of course,
and I didn’t know what that would be like. But there didn’t seem to be any
insurmountable impediment to the two of them being together, well, nothing
not implicit in any teenage romance.
The truth is, I didn’t
know why Will was so upset; frankly except for the practical difficulties, I
didn’t see the problem. I couldn’t for the life of me see why Will, with all
his experience of the world, hadn’t known immediately. No one with working
eyeballs would think Matteus was nineteen.
On the other hand, Will
was suicidal, seriously so, and there had to be a reason because he had most
definitely NOT been that way the night before.
Hours passed, I had
Brandt take Matteus out to get a bite and talk, ordered up some food, Will
was sleeping, but I woke him up. He had no appetite.
I asked him if we could
talk about it, he looked down at the floor, mesmerized by the intricate
floral pattern of the carpet. Then slowly looked up.
“I’ll do whatever you
“Can you tell me, please,
Will, what is so upsetting to you about Matteus being fifteen?”
“I can’t believe you ask
me that, Paul!” He was excited suddenly and crying. “After all you told me,
how can you not understand that?”
“Will, I know I’ve told
you a lot of things, tried to give you the best guidance I could. But rules
apply to specific situations, and I don’t what rule you think applies here,
or what you think it means, and I wonder if you haven’t got to reexamine
what it is. So can you please tell me what is wrong with this, as you see
But he broke down crying
every time he tried to talk, wracking sobs.
After several tries, he
was wailing at the top of his lungs, he was so shaken, out of control,
flailing about violently such that I had finally to lay atop him to hold him
But having begun, I
sensed this was very significant that I should let him; that this was not
something to stop. So I told him, encouraged him to scream it out, to let it
happen, whatever it was.
“How could I fuck around
with a little BOY? “ he finally screamed. “How could he lie to me?”
“More, there’s more.” I
“I WON’T DO IT I WON’T I
WON’T . . . AAH, AAH, AAH, AAH!”
“What won’t you do, Will,
What?” My breath was hot on the back of his neck, I was holding his arms
down, pinning him tightly to the mattress of my bed.
He screeched, a soulful
agonized steamwhistle of pain, a wordless primal scream.
“Tell me, what it is that
you won’t do, Will! Tell me!”
“I – I – I . . .
“I WON’T RAPE HIM, I‘M
NOT LIKE THAT!”
He collapsed, hiccuping,
Hotel security was
knocking on the door.
It was very dark in
the room, very late at night. I was in Paul’s big warm bed alone but dreamed
father was there, kissing me, kissing my forehead. I fell back to sleep his
scent in my nose, the moisture of his blessing on my brow.
The Colonel had changed,
met Brandt with a smile, shook my hand heartily. Listened silently. I still
found Eleanor much easier to talk to. Matteus had gone home, much consoled,
but would be back the next day if all went well.
We all slept, but the
Colonel kept watch on Will; he conceived it his duty to do so.
And he was ever a man of
It was good to see mom,
no matter how bad things were. They met Mats, and all six of us sat around
and ate lunch.
The Colonel kept looking
at him out the corner of his eyes, and suddenly I saw what he saw, a limp
skinny nelly little boy faggot who fucked his son’s eyes out.
How come I didn’t see
Why did I not want to
Well, there! Fuck it, I
saw it, I didn’t care if the Colonel liked him or not.
“You’re finally beginning
to understand, Will, what was happening to you all those years. Last night
you screamed out ten years of pain.”
“I don’t understand,
Paul. Really, I wasn’t raped except that once.”
“You were raped, many
times, even when you were wiggling your ass at men, they ended up raping
you. They took advantage of your youth, your willingness, your need for
love, the emptiness.”
The Colonel shifted in
“All the pain you had,
you didn’t even feel it, you used more sex to hide it, bury it, make it not
hurt. Then last night you screamed it all out at once. Because you thought
you were the cause of it, you were going to do to Matteus what had been done
“In fact, you didn’t even
see what everyone here can see – his real age – probably because you just
didn’t want to face it, thought it was a bad thing, and couldn’t see it to
avoid that pain.”
“But Will, there is a
clear difference here with Matteus. You must come to understand it. You are
not raping him, you are not that much older, you are not taking advantage of
him. Matteus isn’t as needy as you were, he was in control of himself when
he found you.”
“And remember all the
other things I told you to look at in having sex with someone? Equality.
Mutuality. Trust. Healthy interests. And Love, of course, you have that,
“Yes, he violated your
trust, you will have to find a way to forgive him for that. He’s young, he
made a mistake there. He made it out of love, though.”
Matteus was all teary and
rubbing his eyes with a Kleenex.
“From everything I have
seen and heard, Will, Matteus and you have a good, safe, healthy thing going
on here. It may not be perfect, I see obstacles for you two. But I must say
Will, this is the best thing I’ve seen you involved in all the time I’ve
So there it was, I didn’t
know how, what to say or do. I didn’t have to die instead of loving him.
Screw the Colonel if he didn’t like it.
After that it was kind of
silent and then I didn’t know what to say and then I got up and walked away
from the table and looked out the window; it was another nice day out there;
and then I went back and bent over and kissed Matteus on the lips right
there in front of them all.
Even though Paul had
explained at length what to expect, it was still startling to me to see Will
involved with someone like this. Mind, I was not being judgmental, I just
wanted him to be happy, but Matteus was indeed a real change. I thought
perhaps it was a good thing, a sign of changes that had happened inside our
Well, our man, now.
Nor could I understand
what had happened to Will that caused this crisis. But by the time we got
there, I began to see it was mostly healed. That recognition came more
slowly, of course. When we arrived he was deep asleep and Paul tried to tell
us what had happened.
We heard about Matteus’
real age, but I must admit I didn’t see any real connection or problem, just
as Paul said he had not at first, but we talked it through and I began to
see that Will had come to feel he was doing to Matteus what had been done to
As we discussed it I saw
that it meant Will was coming to the realization of how much he had been
hurt in the past. And because Matteus was so young – well, only a little
younger than Will, but perhaps so young compared to Will’s usual
preferences? – Will was identifying somehow with those men.
Most amazing of all to me
was the Colonel’s reaction.
He was silent while we
met with Matteus, but could not seem to take his eyes away. I could almost
see his thought processes whirling, he was in his totally focused mode,
which I rarely saw outside of his work.
A little later I saw him
draw the child aside, took him out on the balcony and they sat in the chairs
there, overlooking that beautiful city, and talked for almost an hour.
Because I was worried I kept a close eye on this, though I think no one else
Later he told me that
Matteus had gently scolded him, told him he couldn’t hide his love for Will,
and that Will needed to see it. I think it was the directness, the
simplicity and honesty that got him.
It took me two weeks to
get that out of my taciturn husband in little bits, long after we got back
to Spain. But I saw the results much earlier.
The Colonel hugged
My parents stayed for
five days, Paul had to go home after two. I took them to see my apartment;
they met Mr. deKuyk.
The weirdest part was
when they left, what the Colonel did. I was gonna wave at him a little bit,
I just hugged mom, then was gonna wave off the old man, and then he grabbed
me and hugged me. Didn’t say anything. Smelled good. I couldn’t get loose,
his arms were too strong.
Then he surprised me a
lot more because he shook hands with Matteus.
So then they were all
gone and we weren’t and I took him to bed and we fucked each other’s brains
After that I told him we
had to figure out something to do with his family, because he wasn’t out
yet. We couldn’t go to his house, but he did show me the conservatory where
he studied and sometimes I came to see him there, to hear him play.
He played like the
angels, I never thought that much about music like that but when he played
it grabbed me right in the nuts and hauled me up, it was so intense, it
really felt a lot like having him fuck me.
One day I laid on the
floor under the piano while he played something, a Beethoven thing, he said
“Moonlight Sonata,” just for me. I thought I would die, it was so beautiful,
I thought I’d cream my pants right then.
We didn’t know what to do
with the family thing, he told me he thought his family had figured out he
was gay, he just didn’t want to take it too quick. Then he told me he
thought my being an American was going to be a bigger problem. For
So we decided to let it
ride, I saw him every possible minute.
I decided I needed a
better job, but I didn’t have a work permit, so I signed up as a student in
a local college, which is like a high school, never mind the name.
But they weren’t sure
what to do with my Certificate of Proficiency; this wasn’t California. So
they gave me some tests, fortunately in English and decided I could enter
the ‘International Baccalaureate’ program, which is for college – I mean
University – bound students, and takes two years. Usually students are
sixteen when they enter this, it’s like being a High School junior, but I
was almost twenty.
Still I studied for a
while and being a student let me get a student visa, and with it a work
permit. But I didn’t find much better work, and I liked “The Dykes” pretty
much so I stayed there a while.
Then one day another guy
I knew, he whored now and then, he knew I was looking for some work, but not
whoring. He told me he had a customer who needed an aide. I didn’t
understand that, I told him I didn’t want to whore any more. He said no,
this guy was very old, and he needed someone to help him wash, get dressed,
cook his food, stuff like that.
Well, I figured I could
check it out, and so I went with him to meet this guy, Mijnheer – that’s
Mister – Desmet. He was actually Belgian he spoke French but also Dutch and
pretty good English. So sometimes it was Monsieur Desmet, sometimes Mister,
sometimes Mijnheer. So I started calling him one after another, “Mister,
M’seur, Mijnheer, Desmet.” I‘d do that when he’d give me a hard time, like
the way your mother uses your middle name to tell you you’re really in
trouble, “William Anthony Hogan!” He thought it was funny.
He was about eighty years
old and he’d had a stroke, couldn’t get around too good. I felt kind of
sorry for him. He was a bit fat, with his white hair still pretty thick but
cut into a butch and waxed up the way the Belgians do it.
He liked me, and he was a
very funny man, I laughed all the time. He was always telling jokes, even
though I couldn’t understand them half the time. He called me an ignorant
child and patted my head, but I guess when you’re eighty you think everybody
is a child. And I probably was ignorant, but I was trying to change that.
I liked him a lot once I
got used to him. He hired me, the work permit meant the social security
people paid my salary, and it was mostly easy enough stuff to do, just
shopping and cooking and cleaning and taking care of an old man’s body. I’d
trained half my life for this job, it was a piece of cake.
I did pretty well at the
college, but didn’t have as much time as I’d like for Matteus. Mr. Desmet
solved that; he told me to move into his house, which made the money
situation much better, and he just loved Matteus.
They’d sit and yack in
Dutch for hours and then I’d haul him off to the bedroom and Desmet would
get this big grin on his face and make dirty jokes and comments all
afternoon, sometimes he’d yell them at us through the door while we were
fucking. Tell us not to break the bed, he’s an old man, he can’t afford a
new bed. The noise was giving him a heart attack. We’d wear our dicks out.
Save it for winter so he doesn’t have to heat the room. He just could go on
and on, teasing the shit out of us.
He’d get us laughing so
hard we couldn’t fuck! Christ, he’d thought of things I hadn’t ever heard
of! I didn’t know if he’d ever done it, but I didn’t have any trouble
imagining him whoring on the streets when he was young! I bet the customers
would have loved him!
I might as well admit I
did him now and then.
He didn’t ask or
anything. He could hardly get it up but once a week and I felt actually good
about it. I don’t even think he was gay, he had been married, his wife was
dead. But I guess when you’re that old you think any sex is a good thing.
I’d be giving him a bath
and he’d get hard, so I’d just do it. I thought I’d bring him a little
happiness, it wasn’t sick like when I was whoring or prowling bathrooms. And
afterwards he’d give me a kiss on the forehead and tell me I was a sweet
boy, and not to let Matteus get away from me. I told Matteus all about it
and he told me I was sweet.
I know – he was ugly and
old and all wrinkled; he was all gray –everywhere – and had liver spots too,
but I didn’t care, it didn’t turn me off. It wasn’t about being turned on
anyway. It wasn’t important, Desmet was beautiful. I was telling him I loved
him. He was just like Mats in a lot of ways.
We talked about just
leaving the door open for him so he could watch. I thought about doing a
three-way with him, really give him a treat, ‘cause he thought Mats was
magnifique which I am pretty sure means bitchin’ or hot. But then I
figured I didn’t want to share Mats with anybody, and if we did we’d end up
killing the old guy with a heart attack or something. But I’d of done almost
anything for that old guy. I figured he was as close to a grandpa as I’d
It was nearly Halloween,
1980, I turned twenty and Mats was sixteen, and so we were ready to tell his
parents because Desmet said we could move in with him if we needed to.
It went pretty good, they
weren’t surprised he was gay, but they weren’t too crazy about me. They got
used to it, though.
Mats parents were old.
I mean they were over
sixty, not as old as Desmet. His mom was 45 when he was born and his dad was
almost fifty. He said he came too late for them, they didn’t know what they
were to do with him. But I think he was wrong, for once, they were really
nice people, but I knew they would have to be with Mats for a son.
They had had two other
sons, when they were young, but both of them were killed in World War II.
That was really sad. That’s probably why he wrapped them around his finger.
They did pretty much anything he wanted them to do.
One night he told me we
were going to dinner together to meet them. At first I was so fucking
nervous I thought I’d have to go back to using drugs, but he saw it, said
“Not to worry, Will, they will be liking you. And even if they are not, it
is not making any difference, you must know this.”
And I did know it, he was
right. I knew I couldn’t lose him, but I still didn’t want to fuck it up.
So we went for dinner and
I loved their house, even though it was pretty old and stuffy if you
compared it to American houses. Like every Dutch house, they had lace
curtains on the windows. The furniture was all real heavy, solid, antiques
and the woodwork dark, but the floors had bright rugs, all geometric and
modern patterns, and they had a lot of modern artwork on the walls. The
music was just like Mats played, it didn’t get me hard, though, thank God. I
sure didn’t want to explain that to them!
Anyway, he introduced me,
and we had some conversation, but not a lot, because they spoke Dutch,
didn’t have as much English and my Dutch was OK but not for something like
this, so Mats did a lot of interpreting.
You know, I didn’t need a
lot of it though. His mother had this really beautiful look sometimes, when
she looked at Mats, so I knew how much she loved him and figured she’d
understand why I loved him. And his dad was as touchy-feely as Mats, had his
hands all over me while I was there, as soon as the ice was broken. I don’t
mean he wanted to fuck me or anything, just he didn’t worry about touching
me, so he put his arms on my shoulders, shook my hand and held it in his,
stuff like that. Well, after a while, anyway, it did take some time, they
didn’t do much of that the first time we met. But later.
I spent another year with
school and graduated, did pretty good, my Dutch got a lot better too. In
these schools you don’t just pass courses, you have to pass special tests at
the end of it all, and I did surprisingly well. I was eligible to go on to
most Universities in Europe.
My parents came up to my
graduation, I was pretty surprised though I did tell them about it. The
Colonel got promoted, he had his eagle, that was cool. He was getting pretty
huggy too, but I kept my distance. They were ready to rotate back to the
States, he was going to an assignment at Great Lakes, near Chicago, which is
where Paul lived.
Paul sent me a present. A
teddy bear. He included a note.
March 16, 1982
You’re all grown up now, and
you don’t need this.
But just in case, you have it,
and any time you want you can hug it.
And know that it will be me
that you are hugging.
Poor Desmet got another
stroke, and he went into hospice. I visited him there, and he let me stay in
his place, but I knew he couldn’t last. Matteus and I had not been living
together anyway, he was living at home, though he spent more time with me.
So I got another job, doing deliveries for a bakery, and we got a little
apartment of our own for a while.
I was worried about not
having a work permit anymore, and was afraid I’d lose the job at the bakery,
but my mom had the answer. Her mother was born in Ireland, and once we got
the paperwork together, the Irish Embassy gave me a certificate that showed
I was an Irish citizen. Who’d guess? But that’s Irish law, so I got a
passport and because Ireland had joined the EEC a few years earlier I could
work legally. I didn’t have to be in school.
But all that got me to
thinking about some things.
Matteus turned seventeen,
and had about finished his program at the conservatory, he actually did a
small summer concert tour, with some other students, then entered some piano
competitions, and just blew people away.
I started thinking about
how I’d taken care of Desmet, I’d liked that, and now that I was out of
college I thought about what I wanted to do next, and I wanted to go to
school some more.
So we, Mats and I,
decided to try something really different.
Brandt and I had
purchased a condo on Lake Shore Drive. I thought it pretentious but he
pointed out it was just a better investment because the truly pretentious
people would want it if we resold. I told him to stop being a lawyer.
Lawyers can rationalize anything.
I had invited the
Colonel, now a full Bird Colonel, and Eleanor to our housewarming, and was a
bit surprised when they did come. Eleanor was regal, the Colonel a bit
uncomfortable with our largely gay crowd, but took to my brother Danny as
much as his son had. They sat in the corner all afternoon, thick as thieves.
We shared what we knew of
Perhaps it was a tribute
to Matteus, who I came to feel was one of the more determined little fellows
I’d ever met. He had set his sights on Will and bagged his game, held on
with a ferocious tenacity. I could not image an obstacle that would get
between him and Will.
Eleanor told me that they
had gone to see Matteus perform, across the border, in Lyons, France when he
was on tour, she was thoroughly committed to the boy as a son in law of a
I sensed the Colonel too
was at ease with Matteus, which I knew to be at great odds with Will’s
perception of the situation. While he certainly was not the sort of thing a
Marine Colonel is expected to dream of for his sons, I thought the Colonel
had come a long long way to accept him; he had only good things to say
about Matteus. He sounded almost proud talking about his musical career.
It was too bad Will never
could seem to see the changes in his father.
The letter was one of
those onionskin airmail things I was used to getting about three or four
times a year from Will. But I was really impressed with what it had to say.
I had spoken with him a
number of times in the last two years. He was going on twenty-two now, and
while the demons were definitely not gone, he was healing, this was the
longest sustained time of good news in his life that I could see. Matteus
had proven to be a very good healer.
June 11, 1982
I have some good news, at
least I think you will like it.
Matteus and I have been
talking for a while now, he just finished his program at the Conservatory,
and we have made a decision about where to go from here.
So I hope you will be happy to
learn to that we are coming to Chicago!
I’ve been accepted into a
Nursing program at a community college in the area. Yes nursing, I think
it’s right for me.
Matteus is going to do
advanced studies and get his degree at the Chicago College of Performing
We will be there for the fall
semester, and I hope it means we can see you a lot more often. With my
parents in the area I wasn’t so sure we should do it, but Mats said it
wouldn’t be a problem, and that being close to you would be good for our
I can’t argue with that one.
So I hope you can find a
little time to help us get settled, we’re on a tight budget but we’ll find
something in the area. It’s very expensive to ship anything, so we can’t
take much of our possessions with us, but we don’t really have all that much
Can’t wait to hear from you
and see what you think!
I love you so much.
Nursing, when I thought about it, seemed a good choice for Will. He had
accessed a nurturing place in himself, and I thought that had to be a really