Dermot - Chapter 12 - Decision
After Father Schiller left, Dermot spent the remainder of Wednesday
morning and the early afternoon attempting to deal with his school work,
but was continuously distracted by his effort to reconcile his love for
Lando with his aversion to the Catholic Church, and his attempt to digest
the information about Catholics presented by the priest. So much went
counter to what he had learned, but then, he was not sure where he had
picked up his various attitudes. His father was surely one source, but his
father was experiencing prolonged grief over the death of his wife.
Another source was Uncle Steve, but Dermot consciously rejected anything
Uncle Steve said. Then there was Uncle Steve's church, but he had also
rejected that. There was the media, and 'what everybody knew,' but how
accurate was that? He had been wrong about Maryland, and he had been wrong
about Attila. But, there was his own experience in his contact with Father
Seligmann. But how typical was that experience of all Catholicism? His
own experiences of sex had been woefully lopsided. Could it be his
experiences of Catholicism were also slanted and incomplete? Lots of
questions, but so far, no answers.
Why did Lando have to put so much emphasis on being Catholic? How
important was religion, anyway? It was all just a matter of opinion, after
all, wasn't it? Just a name? Dermot was reminded of Juliet's plea. He
consulted his textbook and located the passage:
'Tis but thy name that is mine enemy,
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What's a Montague? It is nor hand nor foot
Nor arm nor face. O, be some other name
Belonging to a man!
What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet,
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo called,
Retain that dear perfection which he owns
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name, which is no part of thee,
Take all myself.
Thus musing, Dermot began to feel aggrieved, put upon, and the injured
party. He felt angry and self-righteous. If only Lando weren't so
unreasonable about being Catholic, all would be well. He was, therefore,
in no proper mood when Lando came to call that afternoon.
Lando came in more soberly than was his wont. He, too, was feeling
injured. Dermot's parting remark the previous day, 'you're not real,' had
struck him like a hammer blow. He wondered whether there was anything
substantial to a Dermot who could dismiss him, dismiss his very soul, so
cavalierly. Could Dermot not see how he was struggling, just as much as
he, with this difference which divided them? So, when Lando arrived, he
"Hi. What's up?"
"Not much. Do you want me to come in?" Lando asked uncertainly.
"Of course I do! Why are you being stupid?" Dermot shot back.
"When I left yesterday, I wasn't sure where we stood. You didn't seem
to want me."
"I do want you, but there seems to be a lot of excess baggage
attached," Dermot ungraciously commented.
"What excessive baggage?"
"It seems like you're making it a condition of accepting you that I
also accept the Catholic Church."
"Dermot, I never once asked you to be Catholic. All I, or my family,
is asking is that you respect our decision to be Catholic, and to practice
our religion. Do you really expect us to put away our religious beliefs to
"No, Lando, I never said any such thing. But why make such a big deal
out of it? After all, religion is just a matter of personal opinion, isn't
it? If there's anything between us, I don't see why religion should be
such a big deal. One religion, or none at all, it's all the same, isn't
it?" Dermot asked, adopting a pitiable voice.
"No! No, it's not all the same! The people who say religion is
purely a private matter, or who say they're all the same, just a matter of
opinion, are people who have no strong religious beliefs themselves.
Obviously, for them, it is not important. But for those of us who do
believe, it is a matter of the greatest importance. You may think it's all
a matter of opinion, and one opinion is as good as another, but I don't! I
told you once before, maybe more than once, one of the basic facts about me
is that I am gay, like you. But an equally important fact is that I am
Catholic. I believe that the Catholic Church is divinely established, and
it's basic teachings are objectively true. I've never asked you to accept
my beliefs, but you keep acting as though my beliefs were not important.
As I see it, this is a blind spot on your part, Dermot. You just can't
accept the fact that some people, including me, find the spiritual life at
least as important as the physical life."
"You're getting all worked up about nothing, Lando," Dermot insisted.
"But it's not nothing! That's just the problem. To you it may be
nothing, but to me, it is extremely important. Can't you see that?"
"All I see is something standing in the way of our relationship,"
"You got real upset when Father Seligmann told you to repent of being
gay, and I agree with you there. You said being gay was part of who you
were, and I agree with you there, too. But now you're asking me, and in a
way, my whole family, to repent of being Catholic. The answer is the same,
Dermot. This is part of who we are. You either accept who we are, or else
you reject us. Who's being unreasonable now?" Lando practically shouted.
"I don't see it, Lando," Dermot argued. "Isn't this insistence on
being Catholic just a matter of family tradition, and kind of insular and
"Insular! Narrow minded! You, a drop-out from a working class
background with no experience beyond your own neighborhood and hustling,
are calling me insular and narrow! Forget it, Dermot! There's no future
for us, if you think that way," Lando reacted angrily, as he got up and
walked out of the room.
Dermot was extremely distraught. Had he just lost the only friend,
the only person he really cared about? Lando was angry, there was no doubt
about that. But what had he done? What had Dermot said or done beyond
what seemed to him the rock bottom questions and attitudes that were common
to everyone? Wasn't he right? Wasn't the here and now all that really
mattered? Oh, God! How can I have ended up in this situation? All I'm
doing is what anyone would do, right? I'm asking Lando to put aside
something that is not all that important for something that is of the
greatest importance, namely, a meaningful relationship with another human
being. Well, maybe it's me. Maybe there's something about me that is
unlovable. Maybe it's because I've been out on the streets. How could I
expect Lando to accept a hustler ... a prostitute ... as someone he would
be truly interested in? That must be it. Lando did say it was my hustling
that made my position unacceptable, didn't he?
Dermot spent the evening wrestling with these questions. His session
with Father Schiller had satisfied his mind that there was no necessary
conflict between being gay and Catholicism, but his gut feelings still were
not convinced. His argument with Lando rankled. He did not sleep well
that Wednesday night.
Early Thursday morning Dermot was dreaming. Lord Baltimore appeared
to him and repeated, "All I ever wanted was to follow my own way, and allow
others to do the same." For some reason, Dermot found this very
disturbing. Then, before he could discover why it was disturbing, he was
awakened by Nurse Bailey. There followed the normal morning routine.
No sooner had Dr. Shipley and his interns departed than Sgt. Flaherty
was in the room. "I think we have something this time, Dermot," he
announced. "Do any of these look familiar?" He spread six photographs on
the table by Dermot's bed.
Dermot began inspecting the pictures, then started and became excited.
"Yes! This is the one! This is Gary!" he proclaimed, grabbing one of the
"Excellent! Great!" Sgt. Flaherty said, with obvious satisfaction.
"We have the guy down at headquarters, and he's being questioned even as we
speak. He turned up at the Cardinal last night, already two sheets to the
wind, complaining about being unappreciated by his friends. The bartender
recognized him, but did not spook him like our previous witness. He called
us, and we picked him up there. We got our other witness to come down and
identify him as well. Not only that, he was totally plastered, and puked
his guts out in the squad car, not something we want to encourage, by the
way. But we now have legally obtained samples of his DNA to compare with
that we obtained off you when you were first brought in. We have the
bastard!" the excited policeman exulted.
Dermot was just as excited, and was very turned on to see how pleased
Sgt. Flaherty was to have captured the man who assaulted him. Maybe
somebody cared about him after all.
"Who is he, anyway?" Dermot asked.
"His name is Gary Wilson Fowler, age 28. Not only that, but he is a
newly minted lawyer, just graduated last May, and works at the same firm as
our other suspect, Chuck Wilhoit. But this dude does not have a rich and
influential father to pull strings. I'm confident he will break down, and
maybe even tell us about his playmates."
After a few more words of encouragement and satisfaction,
Sgt. Flaherty departed, leaving Dermot in considerably better spirits than
he was when he woke up.
Later that morning, Dr. Lanier appeared for her second visit with
Dermot. He started off reticent and reluctant, but she immediately sensed
that something had happened, so she wormed out of him his argument with
Lando the previous evening. Then Dermot laid the entire case before her,
including his own take on Lando's "selfish" involvement in his religion
which prevented him from devoting all his attention to "real" issues, like
finding a way for them to be together at the Lyle place without Dermot
being "suffocated" by Catholicism.
After he had completed his diatribe, Dr. Lanier thought for a moment,
then began asking him a series of questions.
"Are the Lyles insisting that you become Catholic?"
"No. Mr. Lyle said he would not do that," Dermot responded.
"Are they insisting that you attend church services with them?"
"No, not that either."
"Are they insisting that you participate in their devotions at the
"Did Lando say he did not want you there unless you were Catholic?"
"Why is the presence of their Catholicism a bother to you, then?"
"Because of those previous associations, those bad experiences, I
"Did the Lyles try to justify that other priest? What's his name?
"Yeah, Seligmann, but no, they even apologized for him, sort of."
"I'm sorry, Dermot, but I don't see the problem. Why does the
practice of their religion by the Lyles create a problem for you?"
"I get angry whenever I'm around Catholic things."
"And why is that? Is it just the priest who would not help you?"
Dr. Lanier pressed him.
"No, I guess not," Dermot said, beginning to sniffle
"I think ... maybe ... it's my dad," Dermot replied, now allowing the
tears to flow.
"Your father was angry at the Catholic Church because of something
that happened when your mother died, is that right?"
"What was he angry about?"
"I don't know. I don't remember. I don't think I ever knew," Dermot
"What about your mother?"
"What about your mother? Was she angry with the Catholic Church?"
"No. Mom always went to church. She prayed a lot, even after she got
"So, your father became angry at the Catholic Church as part of his
grieving when your mother died, is that right?"
"Yes. As far as I know."
"And you are angry because your father was angry?"
"Yeah, I guess. I mean, Dad talked about it all the time after mom
"Was he happy then?"
"No way. He was mad all the time, and he drank too much."
"Do you think your father wanted you to be happy?"
"Yes. I always thought so. I loved my father."
"But instead, he made you unhappy?"
"Yes, because he was always mad, and sometimes drunk."
"Do you see a problem here, Dermot?"
"I guess. I mean, I thought about it while I was here, you know.
Somehow, my dad could not get over my mom's death. He just could not get
"Do you want to have the same kind of problem in your life?"
"No, of course not."
"If your father had been able to get over his grief, you would have
been happy, right?"
"Yeah, I think."
"But his anger with the Church was one of the things which kept him
from getting over his grief, wasn't it?"
"I guess," Dermot reluctantly conceded.
"Do you think it would somehow be disloyal to your father to put away
your own anger at the Church?"
"Maybe. I never really thought of it that way, but I guess you're
"But, your father would want you to be happy, right? And your mother
"Yes. Yes, I believe they would. Both of them."
"Do you see where this is leading, Dermot?"
"Yeah," he sighed. "You're telling me I should get over my anger at
the Catholics, and accept Mr. Lyle's offer."
"I'm not telling you anything, Dermot. I'm just pointing out
"Sure you are," he replied sarcastically. "But you're right, anyway.
I just could not bring myself to admit it."
"I knew you would accept reality once you were faced with it, Dermot.
You've got a tough mind."
"I'll need a tough skin if I go live with the Lyles," he responded.
After Dr. Lanier left, Dermot rehearsed all the arguments for and
against accepting Mr. Lyle's offer. After this catalogue of arguments,
the one thing which stood out was that he had ticked off Lando. Now he was
not sure whether Lando would want him in the same house. What if Lando did
not return? He might never have the chance of patching things up, and he
could not live with the Lyles under the present circumstances. Dermot
fretted, and got very little done. He did not eat much at lunch time, but
continually reviewed every possible possibility over and over, until he was
As a result, Dermot was half asleep when Lando appeared a little after
three that afternoon. Lando entered quietly, not certain of his reception.
He cleared his throat, attempting to gain Dermot's attention. Slowly,
Dermot became aware of Lando's presence, and perked up.
"Hi," Lando cautiously said.
"Hi, yourself. I'm sorry," Dermot blurted out. He began to weep, and
at the same time tried to apologize for his behavior the previous day and
explain his session with Dr. Lanier, so it all came out jumbled, and Lando
could make neither heads nor tails of it.
"Whoa!" Lando commanded. "I can't understand a thing you're saying.
Take it slow, man"
"I was wrong. Dr. Lanier made me see it. I was taking out my anger
at Father Seligmann and ... and other things, on you. Can you forgive me,
"All I ever wanted was to get along with you, Dermot, and have you get
along with me," Lando said.
"You and Lord Baltimore," Dermot cryptically responded.
"What? What's Lord Baltimore have to do with it?"
"Never mind. Are you still willing to have me at your place?"
"Oh, yes, Dermot! You are somebody special. In case you haven't
noticed, you have a special effect on me. I ... I'm not sure how to
describe it, but I've never felt like this about anyone else. I definitely
want you around for a long, long time."
Lando leaned in and kissed Dermot, this time on the lips. They had
only touched, however, when a voice behind him said, "Now, now. None of
that. Time to get down to work."
"Mark!" an embarrassed Lando exclaimed. "You have a knack for
appearing at just the wrong time."
"Or just the right time," Mark kidded his brother. "Wouldn't want you
to be barred from the hospital for indecent behavior."
"There was nothing indecent about my behavior," Lando insisted.
"Oh, go away. Dermot's going to have enough trouble paying attention
to his geometry without you here," Mark insisted.
"Okay, but I'll be back this evening," Lando insisted.
"Oooh, twice in one day now, is it?" Mark teased.
Dermot had trouble concentrating on geometry even without Lando
That evening, Lando reappeared accompanied by a young girl who bore a
strong family resemblance. Like her brother, Emily Lyle had blonde hair
and blue eyes, but she was softer, smoother, in short, more feminine.
"Dermot, this is my sister, Emily. I believe she's the last family
member to meet you," Lando announced.
"Glad to meet you, Emily," Dermot said, awkwardly shaking hands.
"Me, too," she announced in a voice filled with some of the same
energy Dermot associated with Lando. "Do you hurt much?"
"Not much. Not any more. It's more of a nuisance than anything else
now," Dermot explained.
"Lando says you're going to live with us," Emily said.
"Well, I have not made it official with your father, but I think so,"
"Good. I know Lando wants that. You're his boyfriend, right?"
"Emily!" Lando exploded.
"What?" she innocently replied.
"What makes you say something like that?" Lando demanded.
Emily adopted an aggressive expression. "Look, I wish you and
everybody else would quit treating me like I was a baby. You're gay, and I
know that means you like guys. And you get a goofy expression on your face
whenever you talk about Dermot, so that means he's your boyfriend. So
"I object to 'goofy,'" Lando protested.
"It's the same expression Mark gets when he talks about Cathy," Emily
insisted. Cathy was Mark's steady girlfriend. "And," she continued, "it's
definitely goofy. Kind of like this." She adopted a dazed look, and
crossed her eyes.
"No way!" Lando protested again.
Dermot was laughing at this exchange between the siblings, which only
further embarrassed Lando, so he attacked his sister and began tickling
"Oh! Oh! Stop! Stop!" Emily cried as she howled with laughter.
"Goofy, am I? I'll show you who's goofy," Lando exclaimed as he
continued the torture.
They continued to visit and play around for another half hour. During
that time, Lando added one more factor to the information Dermot received
from Father Schiller the previous day.
"You know, when the Church is divided on something, like gay sex, we
are told that it is the responsibility of each individual to decide based
on his conscience."
Emily immediately added, "or her conscience."
Not long after this, Lando said he had to get back to finish his
homework, and so did Emily. Dermot said he was very pleased to have met
Emily, and that Lando came back.
"There was something Emily said when she first got here that's
important," Dermot said.
"My sister said something important? Not likely," Lando kidded.
"What was it?"
"She asked whether I was your boyfriend," Dermot said quietly.
"Oh! Yes, that's important," Lando confirmed. "Boyfriend?" he asked,
looking into Dermot's eyes.
"Boyfriend," Dermot agreed.
"Aaaawwww," Emily said. Neither boy objected.
Once again Sgt Flaherty was Dermot's first visitor on Friday morning.
"Well, Dermot, I think we've cracked it. Our boy Gary broke down under
"Gave him the third degree, did you?" Dermot joked.
"Now , now, we don't do that any more," the policeman insisted. "But
we did confront him with two witnesses and the DNA evidence. He crumpled
at that. Said he was not going to take the rap by himself. Gave us the
names of his three associates, including our friend Chuck Wilhoit. His
daddy's going to have a hard time getting him out of the soup this time,"
he chuckled. "Full confession to assaulting you, and two previous teens.
I knew you could not be an isolated case, but we had no clues about those
two others. In fact, one was never reported. I am really happy to have
this public menace removed, Dermot."
"Thanks, Sgt. Flaherty. I really appreciate all you've done," Dermot
"Just doing my job. You take care. I hope the vice boys don't have
reason to meet you when doing their job in the future."
"No way. I'm going straight," Dermot said, then paused. With a big
grin, he amended, "That's not the right way to say that, I guess, but I
won't be out on the street any more."
"Great. I'm glad to have had this opportunity to work with you,
Dermot. You're something else," the policeman said.
They shook on it.
Later that morning, Walter Lyle appeared. "Well, Dermot, Lando tells
me you have made up your mind about accepting my offer of foster care."
"Yes, sir, if its' still there, I'd like to accept your generous
"It's definitely there. Mrs. Harper has all the paperwork for your
placement in foster care, and will be happy to fill in the blanks with the
names of my wife and me. For another thing, you have completely captured
the hearts of my family. And I don't mean only Lando. You have a way of
sneaking in and lodging in people's hearts, Dermot."
"Funny, Uncle Steve and Zach never seemed to notice," Dermot responded
"That reminds me. In addition to confirming what Lando told me about
your decision, I do have another reason for coming by. Yesterday the
family court acted to terminate all rights of your uncle and aunt. You are
now a ward of the state. In addition, you are the plaintiff in two
important cases in criminal court, that against your uncle and cousin for
assault, neglect, and rape, and that against Charles M. Wilhoit et al. for
assault and rape. You're going to become quite familiar with the workings
of the court system before this is all over."
"Better this way than the way I was going," Dermot commented.
"Much better. On the more important topic, I spoke with Dr. Shipley
earlier today. He will come around to formally check you out tomorrow
morning. Then, I guess, we need to take a trip out to the mall on the way
to our house."
"The mall? I don't get it."
"I saw the clothing you were wearing when you were brought in. Unless
you have a stash somewhere, you will definitely need replacements."
"That's really too much, Mr. Lyle."
"Nonsense. After all, we have an image to uphold, and if you're going
to be living with us, you're part of that image. Can't have you going
around in rags. Besides, unless I am mistaken, someone we know has a
birthday on Sunday. Just consider it a birthday present a day early," the
Dermot teared up. "You guys are great. Thanks."
That afternoon, Dermot knew Lando was on his way before he was
anywhere near his door. His footsteps sounded like dancing in the
corridor, and his voice when he greeted Nurse Bailey was filled with joy.
"Hi, boyfriend," Lando practically shouted as he entered the room.
Suddenly, Dermot broke into tears.
"Hey, what's this? Something happen?" an anxious Lando enquired.
"I am so lucky. I am so happy," Dermot wept.
Their visit was joyous, and included more than one exchange of kisses.
But as supper time approached, Lando reluctantly prepared to leave.
"I'll be back with Dad to check you out in the morning," he promised.
"Will you give me a ride in that bitching car of yours?" Dermot
"You know it. And, it's only about a month until April twelfth,"
"April twelfth? What's that?"
"Easter, bozo! The end of Lent!"
THE END (and the beginning)