The Foxwood Chronicles

By FreeThinker 

Chapter Twenty



            “You’re a fag!”


            Ryan was standing beside his bed, the morning sun peaking through his bedroom window as he snuck back into his bedroom. Jesse had just left for home following yet another bout of love-making after they had awoken and Ryan was ready to catch a little more sleep before getting up for church. However, Brandon had other ideas.


            “What the heck are you talking about?” Ryan asked, wondering how his brother knew what had happened, or what he knew.


            “I followed you out to the tree house last night. I heard you and Jesse getting it on! It was sickening. Man, you’re a sick freak, doing that shit.”


            Ryan didn’t know what to say. He was angry that his privacy had been violated, angry that his brother was defiling what, to him, had been a beautiful experience, fearful of what Brandon might do with the information, and shamed that, indeed, he had been having sex with his best friend.


            “Come on, asshole. You and Jeremy do it up there.”


            “No we don’t. Not anymore. Jeremy’s a fag, too. Just like his brother. All I wanted to do was beat-off over your Penthouses. He wanted to do all kinds of faggy stuff. I’m not a fucking faggot!”


            He paused, then added, “Not like you.”


            Ryan was furious. This was so unfair, yet this was just what he had been afraid of. It had been such a wonderful night, finally feeling free to do what he wanted with Jesse, to experience and to love him fully as he had dreamt of for so long, yet been afraid to.


            “I’m telling Dad and then I want my own room. I don’t want you mo-ing me or anything, perving on me and shit.”


            “Brandon, you’re my brother, for God’s sake. I’m not going to perv on you. It’s Jesse I love…”


            He stopped, froze as the words came out of his mouth.


            “Oh, shit!” Brandon spat as his face distorted in disgust. He rolled over, his back to Ryan, and muttered, “I don’t want to hear any of this. Just shut up and don’t ever talk to me again. You make me sick.”


            Ryan didn’t know what else to say. He wanted to explain; he wanted Brandon to understand. However, he just couldn’t think of anything to say. In shame and humiliation, he sat down on his bed, too tired to undress, and lay down. He said nothing, but listened to Brandon’s heavy, angry breathing.


            “Look, Brandon…”


            “Shut up. Don’t talk to me.”


            Ryan waited a moment, and then said, “Brandon, listen to me. Please don’t tell Dad. You don’t know what will happen. Jesse’s dad will kill him. You know what a jerk he is. He gets drunk and beats Jesse. You can’t say anything. You’ll destroy Jesse’s life.”


            “You should have thought of that before you two started fagging off with each other.”


            “Look, quit calling us that! It’s not what you think. Jesse’s… Jesse’s the coolest guy in the world. He’s…”


            “Just shut up! I don’t want to hear it!”


            Ryan sighed in fear and frustration and looked up at the ceiling. There was nothing more he could do.


            Brandon said nothing to his parents that morning about what he had seen. As the family ate breakfast and prepared for church, he remained unusually quiet, even sullen. His father chalked it up to his staying up too late. His mother thought he had over-worked himself in the sun the previous day. Brandon said nothing to disabuse them of their impressions. He merely gave Ryan several disgusted looks and remained silent.


            Ryan looked for Jesse and his family when they walked to church and when they entered the building. He couldn’t see them and felt a certain degree of relief. As they slid into their pew, Brandon looked at his brother out of the corner of his eye and mumbled, “Don’t worry. I’m not going to say anything in church.”


            Ryan’s eyes tried to tell him to be quiet as their mother looked over.


            “Say anything about what?”


            Ryan looked away as Brandon just shrugged.


            “Nothing. I’m just giving Ryan a hard time.


            Adam,Dylan and their mother entered the church from a door near the choir, followed by Evan and his grandmother. Evan was dressed in his usual prep school jacket and khakis, though his tie was loose this morning. Adam was in his usual short-sleeved white shirt and wearing a clip-on rep tie. His wild hair was not quite so wild this morning and he seemed more attentive to his surroundings than usual. He stood before the pew and looked around the congregation. As the organist played soft music, Adam’s eyes landed on Ryan and Brandon.


“Hi, Ryan. Hi, Brandon. We are at church. How are you?”


         Several people in the congregation chuckled as Brandon rolled his eyes and Ryan shyly smiled and waived. Evan tugged on Adam’s arm and he turned. Ryan saw Evan whisper something and Adam said in his loud monotone, “OK. I will sit. We will talk with Ryan and Brandon after church.”


        This was met with more friendly chuckles and even Brandon had to stifle a smile  


            Ryan was afraid to look around and as the service began, his stomach was quite upset. He was afraid for Jesse, not certain what Brandon might do or say, even inadvertently, that might cause trouble for Jesse. As they stood to sing the second hymn, he tried to casually turn and look around the congregation. He saw Jesse’s father sitting near the back of the church. His eyes roamed too quickly to notice anyone with him as he turned back to the front.


            When Pastor Stuart walked to the front of the sanctuary to begin his sermon, he paused for a long moment before speaking. During the silence, Ryan could see Adam seem to focus his gaze on the rose window behind the altar while the church was deathly silent.


            “My family,” because Pastor, “was given a very great reminder this week of the prevalence of evil and the power of love. My beloved son, Adam, was attacked twice by bullies and were it not for the courage and love of his friend, I cannot guess what might have happened. We thank the Lord for his mercy and grace in bringing Evan Vanderlyn, Dorothy Vanderlyn’s grandson, into our lives.”


            Adam seemed to awaken at that point and started to stand. Evan knew he was about to say something; he placed a firm hand on his leg and Adam looked at him and nodded, relaxing and sitting back in the pew. Evan sighed with relief.


            “There is, however, still an evil in this town and there are three families who need our prayers in this time of distress. Three young men have been brutally attacked in our town over the last few weeks and no rationalization, no appeal to some perverted view of morality can justify the vicious hatred that underlies these beatings. The attacker or attackers may think he or they are doing the Lord’s work in perpetrating these atrocities. To them, I can only say that vengeance is the Lord’s. Judgment is the Lord’s; and, Jesus sat with the lepers, the publicans, and the sinners. Jesus accepted and loved the prostitute and brought her into his fold as he directed us to love one another as we love ourselves. Our love can be only a pale imitation of the love our Lord Jesus has for each and every one of us, but we must seek to emulate him and to find love in our heart.”


            Ryan was afraid to breathe. Everyone knew, though no one spoke of the fact that the three victims of the attacks were gay; and, everyone in the church at that moment knew what Pastor Stuart meant. Ryan wondered if he were speaking to George Duncan, Jesse and Jeremy’s father, whose dislike of gays and liberals was notorious. This sermon would surely piss him off even more than all of Pastor’s previous sermons.


            When the service was over and the recessional had been sung, Ryan stood and noticed that Brandon was looking down. Ryan put a hand on his shoulder and his brother, glanced up quickly and then, shamefaced, looked away. Ryan knew that the pastor’s sermon had hit its mark, at least with his brother.


            Outside the church, Ryan and his family stood on the grass chatting with Evan and his grandmother. Jesse walked past, following his parents, his father looking furious, fear and embarrassment on the face of his mother.


            “George!” Dr. Atherton called. “Where’s the fire?”

            “We’re leaving,” Jesse’s father growled. He stopped for a moment and in a voice loud enough for all to hear, declared, “I’ve had it with all this bleeding-heart sympathy for perverts and sickos.”


            Most of the congregation was either on the grass in front of the church or making their way into the social hall. Nearly all stopped and stared in amazement. Ryan saw Jesse and Jeremy both cover their faces in stunned shame. He stepped toward Jesse as his own father said, “That’s out of line, George. No one’s justifying perversion. Pastor was talking about simple Christian charity and sympathy.”


            “Yeah?” Duncan spat. “Was that what you were thinking when you got my cousin fired for enforcing the law with that fairy there?”


            George was pointing directly at Evan, whose eyes grew wide with shock. Pastor Stuart strode forward from the steps. Dr. Atherton took a step toward George and said evenly and clearly, “Go home, George, before you make an even bigger ass of yourself than you already have. But, Nancy,” he added to Jesse’s mother, “I want you to know that you and the boys are always welcome at our home.”


            “They won’t be coming over. We’re switching to First Baptist. They won’t take up for perverts there. And, I’m taking the boys out of Catholic High and sending them to public school. They can make friends with the real people in town. You all look down your noses at us anyway. I don’t give a damn about any of you.”


            Jesse, his brother, and their mother all looked as if they wanted to die. George gave Dr. Atherton a furious look of contempt and then turned, storming up the sidewalk and away. There was silence around the crowd for a long moment until, slowly, muffled conversations resumed. Dr. Atherton turned to Evan’s grandmother.


            “Dorothy, I’m so sorry you had to hear that. Evan, don’t ever think people hate you. You showed great courage in what you did. George has always been an ass. But, he’s getting worse. I think his drinking is getting serious.”


            Dorothy Vanderlyn’s neighbors, the Sinclairs, approached and Rosemary put a comforting arm around Dorothy as Grant squeezed Evan’s shoulder.


            “We’re all proud of what you did, Evan. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. You hold your head high, son.”


            Evan had tears in his eyes and he couldn’t speak. Adam’s approach was a welcome distraction for him.


            “Jesse’s father is mean. He is mean to Jesse and Jeremy. He hits them. Jeremy told me.”


            Dr. Atherton took a deep breath.


            “Well, it may be time to do something about George.”


            “Pastor,” Dorothy said in a bright voice intended to change the subject and the mood, “why don’t you and the family join us for brunch at the club. We’d be delighted if everyone could join us.”


            Adam’s father smiled, but said, “I’m sorry, the Nelsons have invited us to their home for Sunday dinner. But, maybe next Sunday?”


            After the adults had all finished their conversations and Evan had given Adam a secret hug and kiss in the closet beside the bell tower, the Athertons, Sinclairs, and Vanderlyns all drove over to the country club, though Ryan was distraught.


            “Dad,” he protested as his family climbed into the car in their driveway, a block from church, “I have to go see if Jesse is OK.”


            “Ryan, you heard what George said and I don’t think this would be a good time to antagonize him. You might make things worse for Jesse.”


            “But, what if he gets drunk and beats him up, again? I have to do something.”


            His father put a hand on his son’s shoulder.


            “Ryan, I know what to do. I’ll talk with him later today when he’s cooled down. Don’t worry. I’ll take care of it.”


            Ryan sighed and climbed into the car, but he was silent during the drive to the club and even during the socializing before dinner. Evan sat next to him and tried to engage him in conversation, but Ryan would reply with only monosyllables or short answers. Evan’s attempts at conversation failed to produce more than a worried, “Uh, huh,” or a lethargic, “I don’t know.”


            By dessert, Evan had given up. He understood what was going through Ryan’s mind and at one point, as both his grandmother and Ryan’s father were busy talking with someone who had stopped by the table, he touched Ryan’s arms and said, softly, “It’ll be OK. Jesse’s strong. He can get away when he needs to. And, you two are always welcome to come over to my place or Adam’s if you need to.”


            He paused a second and, then, with a blush, added, “You know, the top of the bell-tower’s a really good place to get away from it all.”


            Despite his concern, a faint grin fought its way to Ryan’s lips as he glanced sideways at Evan.


            “How good?”


            “Good enough,” Evan replied with a bigger grin as he stood.


            “I’m going to the restroom. I’ll be back.”


            It was not, however, until he reached the door from the dining room to the hallway outside that he realized Michael Sanchez was following him. Michael touched his shoulder and Evan spun around in surprise. With a sigh, he leaned back against the wall as Michael almost blocked him with his large, athlete’s body.


            “You’ve been avoiding me like the plague,” he said, his eyes, those captivating, damnable eyes boring into Evan’s. The fourteen year-old, despite his contempt and loathing for Michael, felt a stirring between his legs. “I thought we had a good time in the locker room. You sure seemed to get into it. What happened?”


            Evan took a deep breath and struggled to maintain an angry tone in his voice.


            “You left afterwards. It was like, ‘OK, I’ve used you. I’m throwing you away, now. Bye.’”


            Michael grinned as his eyes laughed.


            “What? You wanted romance? You? The famous Evan Vanderlyn? The Slut of Brentwood? Miss Thang?”


            Evan closed his eyes and bit his lip. It was true that he had developed quite a reputation in some circles back home as being a little loose and promiscuous; and, it was true that Chad had warned him that was why he hadn’t gotten a call-back after that audition for that pilot that spring.


            After a deep sigh, he looked up at Michael and said softly, with shame, “Look, I know what people think of me back home. I’m different now. I love Adam. I want love. I want romance. I want to love and to be loved. Adam loves me and I love him. I don’t want to be a slut anymore. Does that make sense? You made me feel like a slut. Maybe you didn’t mean to. Maybe you didn’t realize, but when you held me and kissed me and loved me, it felt so good, so wonderful. I thought you really loved me.”


            Michael’s face changed.


            “Look, I didn’t realize. I’m sorry. It’s just that… I heard so many things about you back there that… I just assumed you were like me, that you like a hot, good time with no strings attached. I understand. I’m sorry.”


            Evan saw the sincerity in Michael’s face and voice. He wanted to remain angry. He wanted to maintain his dislike, his near hatred for Michael. However, he understood where Michael was coming from.


            “Look, I know you love Adam. I want to be your friend. We can still play tennis. I can still help you with training. We can still fly out to Monterrey for the weekend later on. And…”


            He paused and the look in his eyes sent a wave of desire through Evan’s loins.


            “Maybe, when you miss the fun and everything and you just need a little something more intense than, well, you know… we can maybe have a little fun, no strings, no taking advantage of you. Just some fun.”


            An older man walked past them and as he turned into the men’s room, Michael ran a

finger through Evan’s hair and smiled. “I want to fuck you.”


            Evan could barely breathe. He was fiercely hard and could barely stop himself from shedding his clothes right there.


            “I… I have to… go… to the bathroom. Um, I’ll… talk to you later. Maybe. I.. gotta go.”


            With immense self-control, Evan walked away to the restroom, leaving Michael with a knowing smile, watching him.



            It was later that afternoon that Adam was standing in the living of the Nelsons’ home after Sunday dinner. He was staring out the window at the neighbors’ dog lazing in the shade of the Nelson’s hackberry tree. In the background, Adam could hear the conversation of the adults in the dining room, but his thoughts were elsewhere. He stood for a moment and then turned and marched into the dining room. He approached his father, who was telling a humorous story he often told in sermons.


            “And, then the boy replied, ‘Daddy, I think that was a lion and not a lamb!’”


            Adam waited for the laughter to subside and then broke in.


            “Dad, I am leaving. I have something to do. It is important.”


            His father looked at him and smiled.


            “What do you need to do?”


            “It is a secret. It is important.”


            “What’s so important and so secret that you can’t tell you old man?”


            The others at the table all smiled indulgently. Adam had taught himself what that smile meant.


            “I am not a child. It is important. I am smart. I can figure things out.”


            His father raised a surprised eyebrow.


            “Well, Adam, I don’t think anyone feels you’re a child. Why would you say that?”


            Adam stood for a moment, not knowing how to respond. He didn’t want to be rude, yet he didn’t like it when people treated him like a child and the condescending smiles of the faces of the people around the table made him feel as if they were, if not laughing at him, at least treating him like a novelty. After a frustrating moment, he sighed and repeated, “I need to go. I need to do something important.”


            “Well, Adam, it is polite to ask and it’s polite to thank your host for inviting you.”


            Adam was growing impatient with all the silly conventions. He needed to go. His fingers began to dance at his side. Looking at Mrs. Nelson, he said, “Thank you for dinner, Mrs. Nelson. It was good. I liked the fruit salad. It was healthy. I like healthy food.”


            Turning to his father, he said, “Now, I need to go. I must do something. It is important.”


            His father finally nodded.


            “Dylan, why don’t you walk your brother home.”


            “No!” Adam replied with unusual asperity. “I am not a child. I am fourteen. I am smart.”


            His father smiled and looked downward.


            “I’m sorry, Adam. I know you are not a child anymore. I know you’re fourteen. I just worry about you. When you’re a father someday, you will understand.”


            Adam started to comment on that, but his father nervously cut him off, and added, “It’s OK. You can go.”


            Adam nodded and turned to go, stopped. He turned and quickly said, “Good-bye. It was fun. Thank you.”


            Before he saw the indulgent smiles and nods and before he heard the gracious replies of the Nelsons, he was out the front door and walking across the lawn.


            He could see his destination a block down the street. The mid-summer, mid-afternoon heat was not unpleasant to Adam as he walked along the sidewalk. However, he did remove the clip-on tie at his throat and opened the top two buttons of his shirt. He neatly folded the tie, slipped it into his slacks’ pocket, and then crossed Second Street. He could see the Athertons’ house to his right. He knew Ryan was not home, or he might have stopped there to bring him along with him.


            He came to the Duncan home and paused. He examined the house, noting the doors and windows were all closed and the several window-unit air conditioners were all running. He was about to walk across the grass to the front door when he heard some noise from the side of the house, sounds like the breaking of glass. In his loping, plodding gait, he walked across the yard and around the corner of the house until he reached the driveway. Before him, he saw George Duncan, Jesse and Jeremy’s father, wearing a worn gray work shirt and old khaki work pants, throwing beer bottles into a metal trash can, shattering them as they crashed against the aluminum. He looked up as Adam approached, squinted and then opened his eyes in amazement and disgust.


            “What the hell do you want?” he demanded, slurring his words.


Adam considered the slurring and the beer bottles and decided he might be drunk. He thought about what he knew about drunk people, which wasn’t very much as he had never met one, and decided that he needed to be more polite than usual. He considered the best way to do that and then said, “Hello. I am Adam. You look very healthy today.”


Duncan stood without moving and then said, “What the hell?”


Adam swallowed, concluding that might not have been the best approached. Well, if that didn’t work, perhaps it was best to just be direct.


“I am Adam. I am Jesse’s friend. Jesse is a good guy. So is Jeremy. He is Dylan’s friend. Dylan is my brother. They are nice to us. They help us. Everyone likes Jesse and Jeremy. Ryan is Jesse’s best friend. Ryan is a good guy. Ryan…”


“What the hell are you babbling about, you damn retard?”


Adam froze. This was not just anger. This was hostility. He had called him retard. The policeman who attacked him had called him retard, as well. This was not going the way Adam had planned. His fingers began working in agitation at his side and his right arm began to jerk. Adam pursed his lips in confusion and frustration, trying to think of what to say next.


“I asked you a question, retard!” Duncan yelled. “What the hell do you want?”


And, then, Adam saw it. His eyes froze and he couldn’t move. George stood there watching him and realized Adam was looking at his work shoes. He looked down at the red muck around them and then looked back at the boy. Adam was frozen.


“Get the hell out of here,” he barked. “I don’t have time for retards around here.”


Adam remained frozen where he was as the back screen door opened.


“Dad, that’s Adam. He doesn’t understand.”


Adam was aware Jesse was standing next to him and that his arm was around him.


“I told you to stay inside!” Duncan barked.


“I know. I’m just gonna take Adam home and then I’ll be back. I promise. Just let me take him home. OK”


Duncan made no reply. He merely threw another beer bottle into the trash can, smashing it against the remains of the others. Jesse took his silence as permission and turned Adam. Quickly, he led him up the driveway toward the sidewalk.


“Are you OK, Adam?”


“Red dirt,” Adam said softly, his hands trembling. His right arm rose to the side of his head as his fingers engaged in their intricate dance. “Red dirt.”


“What about red dirt?” Jesse asked softly as he guided Adam toward First Street.


Adam said nothing, but he continued to tremble and shake.


“Come on, Adam. What about red dirt?”


Adam shook his head. Jesse sighed and said nothing more until they reached the church.


“Are your parents home?” Jesse asked. Adam shook his head, but said nothing more.



Both boys turned and saw Evan running from up the street. He had changed out of his church clothes and was now wearing cut-offs, a yellow OP, and sandals. Despite his concern for Adam and his love for Ryan, Jesse couldn’t help but think that Evan was the second hottest guy he had ever seen.


“What’s the matter?” Evan asked as he ran up.


“I found him talking to my dad in the driveway and he was frozen. So I brought him home.”


Adam looked at Evan and said, simply, “Red dirt.”


“He keeps saying that,” Jesse commented. “Look, I gotta go. Dad’ll blow a gasket if I don’t get right back.”


Evan nodded and smiled with understanding.


“I know. Thanks!”


He gave Jesse a grateful pat on the back and the hunky blond turned and ran back up the street.


“Your folks are back from the Nelsons’?” Evan asked.


Adam took Evan’s hand and led him around the corner of the church and up the driveway to the back of the house. Silently, the two boys walked to the metal swing by the roses and sat. Adam curled into Evan and the two boys said nothing for several minutes. Evan knew that Adam was processing whatever was going on and that he should simply be patient. Finally, Adam took a breath.


“Jesse’s father is the man who is attacking the gay guys at the Duck Pond.”


Evan looked down at Adam in skepticism.


“How do you figure that?”


Adam waited a moment, as if gathering his thoughts, before replying.


“He hates gay people.”


“So? Lot’s of people hate gay people. That’s probably three-fourths of Foxwood. Prolly more.”


After another moment, Adam said softly, “He had red dirt on his shoes.”


Evan shrugged.




Then he stopped. Red dirt.


He pulled away and looked down at Adam.


“Red dirt on his shoes. There’s only one place in Foxwood that has red dirt: the Duck Pond. All the attacks took place at the Duck Pond.”


“Yes,” Adam replied.


Evan thought for a moment.


“Well, lot’s of people go down there besides gay people. I mean people have picnics there. Maybe that’s why he has red dirt on his shoes.”


“Jesse says he goes out at night a lot. Jesse says he goes out late.”


Evan slowly stiffened and then nodded.


“Yeah. It all makes sense. I was thinking it might be that asshole policeman, Fred. Hey, wait!”


Evan looked at Adam with wide eyes.


“Fred’s his cousin! They’re related! Maybe they’re doing it together!”


“Yes, that is right. They are doing it together.”


“We need to tell someone. I wonder if the police will do anything. They fired Fred after what happened Thursday, but I don’t know if they would arrest him. I wonder…”


Adam thought for a moment.


“I will tell Dad. He will know.”


“No. We need to wait until we’re sure. I’m going to play tennis at the club this evening. I’ll check with a friend there and see what he has to say. Then, I’ll come by afterwards and tell you.”


“You will stay tonight?”


Evan grinned as he looked down at his boyfriend and tried to comb his wild hair with his fingers.


“Do you want me to, Wildboy?”


Adam nodded.


“It is funny when you call me Wildboy. I like it.”


Evan mussed Adam’s hair and began to sing, “Wild Thing. You make my heart sing. You make everything… groovy.”


Adam actually grinned spontaneously.


“I am Wild Thing. I make your heart sing. I make everything… groovy. I am Wild Thing.”


Evan laughed and squeezed Adam to him.


“I love you so much, Adam.”