Dermot - Chapter 8 - Exposed

There was nothing about the way Tuesday began to indicate the
approaching events which would shatter Dermot's carefully guarded privacy.
Nurse Bailey seemed much as usual as she roused him that morning.
Dr. Shipley likewise showed no sign of the impending collapse of Dermot's
policy of non-compliance as he poked and peered, hemmed and hawed through
the morning examination. The first hint Dermot had of something out of the
ordinary was at the end of his examination.

"You are to be taken up to x-ray again this morning, Dermot. Just
normal checking. We want to keep a close watch on that lung. Hear you
didn't get on very well with Dr. Grissom."

"The man's a fraud," Dermot harshly asserted.

"Hmmm. Well, we'll have to think about that. Oh, and when you get
back from x-ray, Mrs. Harper, Sgt. Flaherty, and Mr. Lyle will be coming to
see you" Dr. Shipley announced.

"Oh joy. More questions. Who's coming first?" Dermot asked with no

"I believe this morning they are coming together," his physician

"Ganging up on me, are they," Dermot commented, not concerned at
first. During his x- rays and travel time up and down, however, he began
to worry. Had he told a different story to one than to the other? He
didn't think so. All things considered, he had been remarkably truthful.
Just not very forthcoming.

He returned to his room, and got settled in his bed only minutes
before the trio invaded his personal space. The clatter of footsteps down
the hall was accompanied by companionable laughter. They were in this
together. As the three entered his room, Dermot noted that all of them
were festooned with something very like smirks. Walt Lyle spoke first.

"Good morning, Dermot. I believe you know Mrs. Harper and
Sgt. Flaherty. We held a little meeting yesterday, probably overlapping
with the time my son was visiting you here. As you may be able to tell, we
feel very proud of ourselves. We have cracked the mystery of the identity
of Dermot the Closed-Mouthed. But, I'll let Mrs. Harper speak first, as
she did most of the spade work."

Dermot the Closed Mouthed sat open mouthed, not sure what was

Natalie Harper smiled as she moved slightly closer. "Although you
gave Sgt. Flaherty more specific clues, Dermot, it was telling me that you
had previous dealings with Social Services which allowed me to discover
your identity. That, and the fact that I was fairly sure Dermot was your
real name. It's not all that common, you know. I must say, it took me
long enough, even so, and I hope you're pleased at having caused me to
spend countless hours going over our records for the past two and a half
years. Here's what I found out."

"Your full name is Dermot Michael Barry. You were born on 15 March,
1993, the only child of James Edward Barry and his wife, Eileen Marie
Walsh, here in the city. You attended St. Pius X Parochial School from
Kindergarten until grade four. You were then transferred to Samuel
S. Ballard Elementary School, a public institution, where you attended
through grade six, Shawnee Middle School through grades seven and eight,
and Western High School for grade nine, or your freshman year. You have an
excellent academic record, except for the last semester at St. Pius. Last
year at Western, you had all A's except in Algebra, where you earned a
modest C+. You also neglected to tell me when we spoke that your Civics
class was only one semester, and the fall semester last year you had a
class in computers."

"We also know that your mother died on March 14, the day before your
tenth birthday, in 2003. She had been ill with cancer for several months
prior to that, although the disease acted relatively quickly. It was at
this time that your school work fell off, followed by your change of
schools the following school year. Your father was called up as a member
of the National Guard two years later, and was assigned to combat duty in
Iraq. When he left, he entrusted you to the care of his brother and
sister-in-law, Stephen and Florence Barry, of 3407 Willowdale Avenue in
this city. Less than a year later, on 7 June 2006, James Edward Barry was
killed in action."

"On 8 August 2006, you appeared at our office in the western part of
town, claiming that you were being mistreated by your uncle. An initial
investigation was carried out, and no evidence to substantiate that claim
was found, so you were returned to the care of your uncle and aunt."

"How am I doing so far, Dermot?"

The boy sat in his bed, stunned, open mouthed, but also with tears
streaming down his face. He did not answer.

"Let me bring you up to date. I discovered most of this on Saturday
and Sunday. I said nothing to you yesterday because I wanted to check out
my facts, and to consult these gentlemen first. Yesterday afternoon, after
I left you, I went to the Barry home and attempted to interview
Mrs. Florence Barry, who was extremely nervous and who would say nothing
until her husband was present. While there, I met your cousin Alice, but
she excused herself quite early, so I did not get a chance to speak with
her. I returned in the evening, and interviewed Stephen Emmet Barry. He
assured me that his nephew, Dermot Michael Barry, was living with an aunt
on his mother's side in another state, but he could not remember which
state, nor provide an address or phone number. He became quite hostile
when I pressed the issue, informing him that, as a complaint had been
filed, it was necessary to make follow-up contact."

"I also interviewed Rev. Ignatius Seligmann, Pastor of St. Pius X
Catholic Church. He does not remember having contact with anyone in the
Barry family since you quit attending in 2003, and expressed the opinion
that the family was a sad example of what was happening in the modern
church. We also interviewed teachers and principals at Ballard, Shawnee,
and Western. You are definitely remembered there, as a good student, but
quiet and withdrawn. Several expressed concern that something was wrong,
but they had not enough evidence to follow up on that."

Dermot looked frantically to Mr. Lyle. "You promised me ...."

"I intend to keep my promise, Dermot. You told me that you did not
run away. That says you were thrown out. Your uncle and aunt have
conspired in this fabrication about you being in another state with an aunt
on your mother's side. They obviously are unfit guardians. I intend to
file with the court this afternoon to end any rights they may have over
you, and have you declared a ward of the state. There is one thing you
must do, however."

"What's that?"

"It is just barely possible that the Barrys are telling the truth, and
Mrs. Harper has made a mistake in identifying you. Will you now confirm
your true identity?"

"I won't be sent back to Uncle Steve?"

"No. Sgt. Flaherty has related the incident in which he discovered by
accident that you have an Uncle Steve. We are convinced that your fear of
him is real. But is your Uncle Steve the same as the Stephen Barry
discovered by Mrs. Harper?"

"Yes! If I don't have to go back, there's no reason for me not to
tell you. Yes! Everything Mrs. Harper said is true. My name is Dermot
Michael Barry. I'll be sixteen in two weeks. I got kicked out of my
uncle's house back in May because he discovered I am gay. What can I do to
convince you? I want to do whatever you need to end any connection with
Uncle Steve."

"Tell us something about the family, the house, anything that only a
family member would know," Walt Lyle advised.

Dermot thought. "The house has three bedrooms. One is for Uncle
Steve and Aunt Florie, and one is for my cousin Alice, on the main floor.
My cousin Zach and I shared a room in the basement. Zach has copies of
Playboy and Hustler hidden under his mattress. There is no back door, but
a side door opening on to the car port. In the back yard, there is a large
space in the rear where Uncle Steve says he's going to put in a vegetable
garden every year, but he never does. He works for Broad Street Marathon
as a mechanic. Aunt Florie wants to work, but Uncle Steve won't let her.
He said he can support his family, and would do okay if he did not have to
support me too. Uncle Steve and Aunt Florie fight a lot, and he hits her.
Some times she has big bruises on her arms and face. Zach graduated from
Western last May, just barely. He played football, but was a lousy
student. I don't know what he's doing because I had to leave about a week
after his graduation, and at that time he was still looking for a job he
said. He wasn't looking very hard. Alice is two years younger than Zach,
and a year older than me. She's a real slut, and Aunt Florie knows, but
Uncle Steve thinks she's the Virgin Mary. Oh, I did not know my mother's
maiden name, and, as far as I know, she did not have a sister. When Mom
died, her parents came to the funeral, but I don't remember any aunts or
uncles on that side. There was some kind of argument with the priest at
the time of the funeral, but I don't know what it was about."

"Thank you, Dermot. Sgt. Flaherty and I will check these things out,
as far as we can," Mrs. Harper said.

Sgt. Flaherty spoke for the first time. "Sounds like we have a case
of domestic violence, child abandonment, and child abuse. Have to see what
comes of that."

"One more thing," Dermot added, now being anxious to provide as much
information as he could if it promised freedom from Uncle Steve. "My
history teacher last year was Mr. Barlow. He's a black man, kind of tall.
I think he'd remember me, and could identify me if you brought him to the

"Thank you again, Dermot. That's very useful. I will see Mr. Barlow
today, if possible. Is there anything else you'd like to say before we go
our separate ways?" Mrs. Harper asked.

"Yeah. I hate being out on the street. I hate being ... a ... a
prostitute. I don't want to have to do that any more. Do whatever you
need to, but protect me from Uncle Steve. I hope you guys are telling me
the truth. I told Mr. Lyle before, if you try to send me back to Uncle
Steve, I'll kill myself. I really will."

This was said with such force that none of those present doubted
Dermot's determination to do just that. It also did not escape them that,
despite his clear abhorrence of life on the streets, life with Uncle Steve
was the real evil to be avoided at all costs.

"I'm on my way to check at the Barry home and at Western," Mrs. Harper

"I'll run a check on whether Dermot's mother had any sisters. What
about your grandparents, Dermot?" Sgt. Flaherty asked.

"Grandma died two years ago. I think Grandpa is alive, but he has
Alzheimers. I don't know where he is. After mom died, I never saw them
again. Uncle Steve wouldn't let me go to the funeral when Grandma died."

"Okay. I'll also look into the possibility of filing charges against
Steve Barry. Anyone named Steve should not be acting like that," the
sergeant said.

Despite himself, Dermot giggled at that.

"And I," said Mr. Lyle, "will prepare the documents for this
afternoon's session of family court asking that all rights of Stephen and
Florence Barry over Dermot Michael Berry be terminated, and he be declared
a ward of the state. I trust I can count on you two to support this

"Certainly," the other two declared in unison.

"I'll stop by later for your signature, Dermot."

"Oh, shit! I can't sign anything with my arm in a cast like this,"
the boy said, lifting his right arm.

"We will take care of that," Mr. Lyle promised.

The trio of guardian angels departed. Dermot lay back, exhausted but
at the same time exhilarated. This had taken a lot out of him, and
emotionally he was wrung out, having his whole life reviewed before him, as
it were. He wondered if drowning were like that. But, for the first time
since he heard of the death of his father, things seemed to be getting
better. That was nearly two and a half years ago. Two and a half years is
a long time in the life of someone not quite sixteen.

A short time later, Nurse Bailey came to check on Dermot. She wanted
to show him the new name plate to be posted by his door saying Dermot
M. Barry. When she entered the room, she immediately knew something was
wrong. There was no smart mouthed remark, no complaint from Dermot.
Instead, he was curled up in something close to a fetal position - as much
as the cast on his left leg would permit - and he was weeping.

She rushed to his side. "Oh, Dermot! What's wrong? Why are you

He could not answer her, but, when she reached out and tugged on his
shoulder, he uncoiled and wrapped himself around her, sobbing
uncontrollably. Nurse Bailey simply held him and uttered soothing nonsense
for over twenty minutes. Finally, Dermot ceased weeping. He pulled away.

"I'm sorry," he mumbled.

"It's okay. You had a rough morning."

Dermot reached up to rub his eyes, but she knocked his hand away. "No
rubbing. Here." She carefully wiped his right eye, then handed him the
tissue. "You can do the other one." He grinned.

"I'm so tired."

"Poor baby, you're emotionally exhausted. I should have realized
that, after those three tormentors were here."

"No, not tormentors. Angels."

So saying, Dermot rolled over on his right side, and fell into a deep

When he awoke, Lando was there. He had no idea how long his friend
had been waiting. Dermot started to rub his eyes, but remembered in time.
He sat up. Seeing Lando, he immediately felt better, but at that moment
his stomach grumbled like a bass drum.

"Is that any way to greet a friend?" Lando laughed.

Dermot laughed too, but then asked, "What time is it, anyway?"

"A little after three."

"No wonder I'm hungry. I slept through lunch today."

"I have the perfect solution. Stay here," Lando said pointlessly, and
rushed off.

Dermot heard Lando speak with someone in the corridor, and then
Mr. Lyle came into the room. There was another person with him, a woman he
had not seen before.

"Hello, Dermot," Mr. Lyle said. "Lando tells me you just woke up.
Did you sleep well?"

"Yes, thank you. I hope Lando did not have to wait long for me to
wake up."

"I'm sure he didn't mind. Nurse Bailey insisted that he not wake you,
I understand. I guess this morning was kind of rough on you."

"Yeah. I was really wrung out," he responded, looking wonderingly at
the new person.

Taking the hint, Mr. Lyle said, "This is Mrs. Little. She works in my
office, and is a notary public. She's here to notarize your signature on
these papers requesting that you be made a ward of the state."

"Oh, sure. Let's do it!" There could be no question about Dermot's
willingness to sign.

"Here is the first document. It is a formal request that all rights
whatsoever of Stephen Emmet Barry and Florida Maria Sanchez Barry over you,
Dermot Michael Barry, be terminated, and you be declared a ward of the

"I thought Aunt Florie's name was Florence," Dermot said. "Won't that
make the paper invalid or something?"

"I checked that after leaving here this morning, Dermot. Your aunt
has been going by the name Florence or Florie, but her legal name at birth
was Florida Maria Sanchez, and there is no record of a legal name change,
except her marriage, of course."

Dermot snickered. "I hope she notices. She is so anxious to pass for
Anglo, and the dumb bitch thinks Irish is Anglo."

"Watch your language. There's a lady present," Walt admonished.

"Sorry Mrs. Little," Dermot apologized.

"Now, this second paper certifies that you have a broken wrist in your
right arm, and are usually right handed, which explains the poor signature.
I've already obtained Dr. Shipley's signature, as you can see. You need to
do the best you can signing both papers."

Dermot took the pen into his right hand, and awkwardly signed both
papers, having great difficulty because of the cast on his wrist, which
extended down to the palm of his hand. Only his fingers were free of the
constraint. When he had completed the task, he looked dissatisfied.

"That does not look much like the way I usually sign my name. I hope
there's no problem."

"I doubt it. Well, it's time for me to be away. Mrs. Harper and
Sgt. Flaherty are meeting me at the court house at four o'clock. Oh, but I
expect Lando will be back before too much longer. As he rushed by, he said
he had an emergency provision run, whatever that means."

"I hope so. I have so much to tell him today," Dermot said.

Before Lando reappeared, however, Mrs. Harper was back with
Mr. Barlow, Dermot's history teacher from last year. The tall black man
strode into the room in the same way Dermot remembered him striding into
the classroom.

"Hello, Dermot. We all wondered what happened to you," Barlow began.

"I've had some problems, Mr. Barlow, but things seem to be improving,"
Dermot replied.

"Glad to hear it. Now, this lady," the teacher said, indicating
Mrs. Harper, "wants me to testify that you are the kid who was in my class
last year. Think I should tell her?"

"If you don't mind. She's trying to get me away from Uncle Steve and
my cousin Zach."

"Oh, yes. I remember your cousin Zachary, too. Not nearly as good a
student as you. Not all that great on the football field, either."

Dermot giggled. "He thought he was NFL material."

"In his dreams. What's he doing now?"

"I don't know. I haven't seen any of them since May."

"That long? Well, I'm glad to hear you're doing better, even if you
don't look it." Mr. Barlow turned to Mrs. Harper. "I have no doubt that
this is the same boy who was in my class last year."

"Good. Now, if you would indulge us further, please come with me to
the court house, and tell that to the judge," Natalie Harper said.

"Oh, tell it to the judge, is it?" Barlow joked.

Not long after they left, Lando returned, his smile as brilliant as
ever. He was carrying two sacks, with tell-tale aromas emanating from

"I almost got caught by the nurse at the station in the hall," he

"What 've you got there," Dermot said, his mouth watering.

Dramatically, Lando produced burgers from a sack, along with
condiments, then, reaching in again, he produced another smaller packet.
"You want fries with that?" he joked. From the other sack, he produced two

"You are a life saver. The first real food I've seen in weeks,"
Dermot salivated.

"You going to be nice to me?" Lando teased, holding the burger just
beyond Dermot's reach.

"I am your slave forever," his friend responded rashly.

Laughing, Lando delivered the comestibles, and began sucking on a
straw in one of the cokes. Dermot thought his lips looks inviting,
puckered like that.

"So, what's going on? Why was Dad here with Mrs. Little? He was
involved in some kind of big strategy meeting yesterday, from what I hear."

"Well, to begin with, they figured out who I am ...." Dermot went on
to relate to his friend all about his session with Mr. Lyle, Mrs. Harper,
and Sgt. Flaherty that morning, and the return visits.

When he had finished, Lando was looking pensive. "I told you they'd
figure it out sooner or later. I'm glad. Now I don't have to keep secrets
from Dad. I didn't know about all your schools, though. If you started
out at St. Pius, does that mean you were Catholic?"

"I don't want to talk about that, Lando."

"Okay. Maybe some other time. I'm really glad Dad and the others are
going to take care of Uncle Steve. I know that was bothering you."

"Bothering me hell! It was eating me up. I am sooo relieved, I can't
tell you."

"So, what do you want to talk about?" Lando asked.

"I thought of something the other day. Oh, yeah, sex!"

Lando laughed. It was a frequent enough topic of conversation among
his peer group. "I thought you did NOT want to talk about that, though,"
he said, remembering an earlier conversation.

"Well .... Yeah, I did say that. But this is different. I mean, I
thought about how some sex is good and some sex is bad, and I guess when I
said I did not want to talk about it, I was thinking of the bad experiences
I had."

"Okay. What do you mean about some sex being good, and some bad.
Before you answer, I must warn you, I had a long discussion with my pastor
about this, so I have some definite ideas."

"That might be interesting, too. But I was thinking about some of the
things that happened to me. Here, look at this," Dermot said, turning so
his back was toward Lando, and opening his hospital gown so his back was

"Gee, Dermot. I see red stripes and white stripes. Does it hurt?"

"Not much. Not any more. That was not done by the guys who beat me
up last weekend. That represents two customers. The white stripes are
older, and the red ones will fade in a while and be the same. I can't
explain it, but there are some guys out there who don't seem to be able to
get off unless they are hurting somebody. This one guy tied me to a bed
and used a whip on me. The other guy had me tied to a table. They beat me
with the whips, and as I screamed, they got hard. And when I began to
bleed, they came."

Lando actually looked like he might lose his lunch. In a quiet
whisper he said, "I've heard of such things. S&M. Bondage. I came across
a web site once .... But it turned me off, so I clicked off before getting
into it much. Can I feel it?"

"Yeah. Go ahead."

Lando ran his fingers over the marks on his friend's back. As he did,
Dermot experienced a charged frisson of excitement which seemed to tingle
all through his body, and concentrate in his abdomen. One result of this
was a boner which made the thin sheet covering him tent in an obvious
manner. He was not at all certain about what to do about this reaction.

"Did I do that to you," Lando teased.

"Afraid so," Dermot confessed.

"Sorry, buddy, but I can't do anything about it now."

"I know. I'm still under doctor's orders to refrain from all sexual
activity because of the STDs I had when they brought me in here."

"Yeah, that, and there's something more," Lando hinted.

"Do you have a boyfriend?" Dermot asked, with more apprehension than
he wanted to admit.

"No. No one serious."

"Well, we've talked about my sordid sex life," Dermot said with some
relief, glad to know that Lando was still unattached, as it were, but
wanting to know more. "What about yours?"

"Dermot, you have had so much more experience than I have, that I'm
almost embarrassed to even mention my paltry affairs," Lando asserted.

"There's nothing to envy in the experiences I've had, believe me,"
Dermot emphasized. "Come on, 'fess up."

"Oh, all right. There are two guys at school that I've done things
with. For almost a year after I decided I was gay, I did nothing but widow
shop, like. But last year I had my first encounter with another guy. It
was in the fall, my freshman year at Baltimore. Nothing to write home
about, really. Some kissing and cuddling. Mutual jerk offs. Last summer
I got a blow job, and I gave my first one. I found out sixty-nines are
lots of fun. But my ass is still virgin territory. How's that for a
pathetic resum‚?"

"Actually, I wish I could say something like that. It sounds a lot
better than what my actual experiences have been like. Almost virtuous."

"Well, I wouldn't go that far," Lando protested, blushing.

"Oh, ho! So there is some strain between your sexuality and your
precious Catholicism," Dermot insisted.

"You won't let up on that, will you?"

"It doesn't compute, Lando. I think you're fooling yourself. But
shit! What do I know?" Dermot concluded in a rush of uncertainty, not
wishing to offend his friend.

"If you promise not to get all hostile, I'll give you the benefit of
my thoughts on the subject," Lando said.

Dermot nodded.

Lando began, "I did tell you that I had to struggle with it, and you
are right in saying that the fit is not perfect. All I can say is that I
knew I was both gay and Catholic, and I had to find a way to make that work
for me. I talked to my dad, to Father Schiller, and to my psychologist,
Dr. Lanier. And I'm going to use the word 'sin' whether you like it or
not. Now just shut up and listen. We can argue about it some other time."

"The way I see it, there are three ways a person can experience sex.
One way is the way you have experienced it. Sex can be used to hurt
someone. The most obvious way is in the S&M stuff you were describing, and
in rape. That's a blatant, physical harm. But there are other ways in
which sex can be used to hurt someone. Sex can be used to try to control
someone. I haven't seen this in my own life, but I have heard of instances
at school where a girl told her boyfriend, 'if you don't do what I want,
there will be no sex for you.' That's a perversion of sex, I think. Both
these examples are more about power and control than sex. And then, sex
can be used to depersonalize someone. Use someone. Just treating someone
like an object instead of a person. What's the phrase? A cum bucket. So,
I think if you're the instigator of any of these kinds of sex, that's a
serious sin. What we call a mortal or deadly sin, because it kills the
spirit. It dulls the conscience if something like this is done often
enough, so people get to think there's nothing wrong with it, but that does
not change the reality. You're dehumanizing the other person. In these
examples, sex is used to hurt the other person, and treat that person as
something less than a full human being, a child of God."

"Another way of having sex is what we might call recreational sex that
does not harm anyone. I mean, something like what I described doing. I
really enjoy sucking and being sucked, and the guys who have been my
partners have been kids at school, like me. It's completely mutual, and
completely consensual. Nobody is being coerced, physically or otherwise.
Just a couple of guys getting off. But it's not serious. None of us are
into a serious relationship. We're not cheating on anybody. It's just
fun. Now, I don't think that's a serious sin, but it's not using sex the
way God intended it, either. But what I'm doing is no different, morally,
than what an awful lot of straight kids are doing on dates. So, I think of
this as a venial sin. It is a sin, because it's using sex in something
other than the best way, but it's not going to send me to hell. Purgatory,
maybe, but not hell."

"Finally, there is sex the way God intended it. Father Schiller told
me sex is the greatest gift God gave mankind, next to His divine Son,
Jesus. Sex is meant to be an expression of love. St. John tells us, 'God
is Love.' In its most perfect form, when it is an expression of genuine,
unselfish love, sex is a participation in the love God has for humanity.
It's actually something sacred. And that's true whether it's gay or
straight sex. And I don't think that kind of sex is a sin at all."

When Lando finished this exposition, he looked up, to find Dermot
staring off into the distance. He wondered whether he had been boring his

"Lando, that's beautiful," Dermot said, relieving his mind. "I'm not
buying the God and sin stuff, not now, anyway, but the way you have sexual
experiences analyzed into these three kinds is really great.
Unfortunately, just about all the sex I've experienced is in your first
category. I'm glad you have not had those experiences. Some day, I hope
to experience love in connection with sex. After my mom died, and my dad
went away, I don't think I've had any love in my life, much less sex as an
expression of love."

"I know, Dermot. You've had a rough time. I sure don't want to get
into an argument about religion with you. But I hope you can accept the
fact that, in my own mind, at least, I am sincere about my religion."

"Yeah. I thought about that when I was reading about your Lord
Baltimore. For now, anyway, I'll accept you, and you accept me, okay?"