Kate DeMoss realizes that "her" doctor and the injured policeman are in love and neither thinks the other really cares about the other. Kate is going to get to the bottom of the problem even if it means her getting in trouble for invading a patients privacy. Now we hear Mike's side of the story and find out what an asshole his father really is. There are some other things going on, too; however, it is going to be a while before we get the whole picture.
Your comments are really appreciated.
Chapter 11: 2005, Kate Talks To Mike
“Jo, this is certainly more complicated than I ever expected. Look, it’s late and you have had a rough few days. Why don’t we take up this conversation after you’ve had some rest? I’m on swing tomorrow. Let’s talk in the afternoon.”
“Kate, I have to go downtown and talk to the DA tomorrow. He wants to clean this thing up. He doesn’t want it to go to a grand jury and I certainly don’t. Dr. Rollins has the duty tomorrow. Call my cell if anything changes. If I can, I’ll stick my head in late. I have to fix up my place ‘cause Mom and Dad are coming in. They were worried sick and want to make sure their ‘little girl’ is alright.”
“Jo, I’ll look out for him and let you know what’s going on. Please get some rest. Everything’s going to be alright.”
Kate’s brain was in overdrive. The tale she’d listened to over the last couple of hours was incredible. Yet, the main players had been in her hospital and two of them were dead. She realized there was a lot more to the story than Jo had related to her. She had to get to the bottom of it without going against the doctor’s wishes, but she felt she had to get the police Captain to tell his side of the story. This was not going to be easy.
Suddenly, Kate realized something. Jo had it wrong. The captain wasn’t groaning in pain earlier that night. Those weren’t tears caused by physical pain. Those were tears of emotional pain, and Kate had a good idea what was causing it. Her husband had accused her of being a busybody in the past; however, Kate was a nurse and her empathy receptors were extremely sensitive. They had to be. Physical and emotional health are closely tied, and she knew the signs. She knew what the problem was with the Captain, and now she had to prove it. Some additional healing was going to be required.
The next day was a quiet one. When Kate came in that afternoon she checked the charts and status board. There had been no new admissions and the patients they had were doing well. Dr. Beebe hadn’t been in and had left a message for Kate saying she wouldn't be in until the next day. Kate made her preliminary rounds ending up in Captain O’Donnell’s room. Mike was sitting up in the bed watching the television. Much to Kate’s surprise, he was watching the History Channel.
“That’s not the usual type of program I’m used to seeing patients in this place watch. So, how are you feeling? You haven’t tried to pull that incision open again, have you?”
Mike smiled, “No. Actually, I’ve been feeling pretty good. I’m watching the History Channel because if I watched the Comedy Channel or the sitcoms I would probably laugh and that would hurt. This is a pretty interesting program about the Chinese immigrants that came to California during the Gold Rush. A lot of them worked the gold mines to the east of here.”
“Well they have you off the IV, removed the drain, no strong pain killers and you were able to get up and use the toilet. This has been a milestone day. Look, I know you macho guys can do anything, but I don’t want you trying to get up without my help. Got that, Captain?”
“I have a few minutes,” Kate said while pulling up a chair. “Why don’t you tell me something? Dr. Beebe is a good friend of mine. She is probably one of the best doctors I have ever known and for certain, the youngest surgeon I have ever known. Your case is really occupying her. And, I guess it’s her case too. Seeing how involved she was in the whole thing, do you mind telling me what’s going on? You don’t have to tell me anything if you don’t want to.
“Before you say anything, I do have some other questions.”
Mike looked at Nurse DeMoss, trying to figure out what was going on. He sensed this was going to go somewhere he wasn’t sure he should go. Still, he decided to go along with her for a while.
“Shoot. Whoops, bad choice of words. Please go ahead.”
“How much do you remember after you were shot?”
“Nothing: other than the sensation like being hit by a truck. Everything went black after that. The next thing I remember was waking up in this room with Jo, er, Doctor Beebe hovering over me.”
“That’s alright. We can call her Jo if you would like. I understand you’ve been calling her that and Joey for a long time.”
Mike’s eyes widened. ‘How much does she know’, he wondered.
Anticipating his thoughts, Kate interjected, “Mike, I know everything, or at least a lot of it. I know about when you met. I know about Billy and Freddy. I know what happened that next to last day of school. Besides Jo, you and I are the only people in this hospital that do know that.
“Did you know she killed one of them with your gun?”
Mike paled, “Oh, shit. No one said a thing about it. A guy from the DA’s office interviewed me but didn’t get too far. The other nurse chased him off. She said something about my not being ready for that type of visit.
“Why did she tell you all of that?”
“It may be a while before we know. Maybe you can tell me some things that will help answer that question. Would you give it a try if you aren’t too tired?
“Okay, I’ll give it a try.” He paused for a moment; trying to put his thoughts and memories together. “When I got to Baldwin Elementary School I didn’t know anyone there.”
For the next hour Kate sat entranced as Mike related a story that almost mirrored the one Jo had told her. When the two of them were doing something together it was if she was replaying a tape of the earlier conversation with Jo. It was almost word for word. Nothing conflicted with what Jo had said; however, Mike added some things that Jo hadn’t been privy to that revealed the cruelty both had experienced from his father and their schoolmates.
The malevolence of Billy and Freddy was disgusting. She could understand how Mike, being a new guy at a school might gravitate to them and she wasn’t surprised at how soon Mike became aware of their true nature.
“Look at that little fag over there. That’s enough to make me puke. Fairies like that should have to wear girls’ clothes. That’s where they belong. I sure don’t want them around me.”
Mike looked to where Billy was pointing. A small, blond boy was walking toward the classrooms. He didn’t appear to be much, and certainly wasn’t a threat to Billy and Freddy. Billy and Freddy started taunting him.
“Joooeee, Joooeee,” they chanted in unison.
The little boy turned and glanced at them briefly and hurried toward the classroom even though class was not going to start for another 15 minutes.
“You should of seen that little queer the other day. He was taking a leak and his dick is so short he has to stand real close. Freddy bumped him and Joey lost hold of his dick and peed all over his pants.”
“What’s so funny about that?” asked Mike.
“He’s a faggot,” said Billy. “The little fairy doesn’t deserve to be alive. He should be squished like a bug. My dad says queers are a mistake of nature and an abomination. They will all go to hell and should be speeded on their way.”
Mike O’Donnell was beginning to wonder about his so-called new friends. He'd ‘kinda’ thought they were cool when he’d been introduced to his new classmates when he had first arrived at his new school. Still, it seemed to him they were doing some stupid things.
It was about a week later when they were sitting in the cafeteria having lunch when Billy said, “Watch this. Here comes that little faggot. I’m going to fix his lunch for him real good.”
Mike could see the little kid didn’t want to walk by their table, but he had no choice. He didn’t look at them directly and tried to bravely walk by, all the time expecting the worst. As he walked by, Billy quickly slid his foot out catching Joey on the right ankle. Joey went down as if he’d been shot and his lunch went flying down the aisle. Billy, Freddy and Mike weren’t the only ones that laughed; however, Billy and Freddy laughed loud and hard, pointing at the “clumsy little fairy” and made other rude remarks.
The little boy was in near tears and to make matters worse, he missed his lunch.
The O’Donnell family went to a new church that was closer than their old one in Arcadia. The services were very similar to those of their previous church. Mike attended because he had to. He wasn’t comfortable about some of the things that were said there. For instance, there was this thing about going to hell unless he confessed his sins. The first time they went there, there was a call from the pastor for all sinners to come forward, profess their sins before God and accept the ‘True Way’. Mike sat there until he realized that his mom and dad were getting up. They turned to the children to get up and follow them to the front.
The minister indicated where they were to stand. He then started talking very loudly to someone, from the way he was looking, must have been in the balcony, except the church didn’t have a balcony. He then stood before each person, there were several others, and asked them if they would confess their sins before God. He placed his hands on each individual’s forehead at the same time and when the person gave his assent, his or her head was suddenly pushed back. The minister would then proclaim loudly that the person’s sins were forgiven and move on to the next person.
Mike was really worried. He wasn’t sure he had any sins to confess, but he knew he had to confess something. He remembered that he’d taken a grape from the vegetable display at the store and eaten it when he thought no one was looking. He’d also accidentally broken a window once, and even though everyone knew it was an accident, he figured that was probably a sin also. This whole thing was really bothering Mike. He felt he was being pushed into doing something he didn’t understand. Finally, the minister came to him and went through the same routine. Mike felt that he was a bit rough, but mainly, he was glad the whole thing was over.
After the service, a number of people came up to the family, welcoming them into the ‘Christian Way’ unlike those heathen, homosexual loving people who had visited them in past months. Mike was wondering who these people were until he overheard a church member talking to his father.
“Good morning brother, we are certainly glad to see you in this community. We’ve heard good things about you and certainly hope you can get that City Council position that queer Pfeifer had. Good riddance to him. We don’t need his kind around here. Those faggots have no right to corrupt the fine Christian children of Loma Sierra.”
“Well, thank you, Brother Scroggins, we are certainly going to do our best. Be sure to come to our campaign meeting. We need you folks out there contacting those good Christians who are not aware of the good we can do for this community in God’s name.”
“You can count on me and we got some other folks around here that will be glad to help get them queers and niggers out of here. It’s about time that city council had someone with guts on it. Praise the Lord.”
The O’Donnell’s were heading home in their car and Mike was still contemplating what had taken place. “Mom, Dad, what’s a queer, and why does that man, Mr. Scroggins say they are bad?”
“Mike, that’s not anything we need to talk about right now. We can talk about it when you are older,” said his father. “Let’s just say that they are people who are against the way of God.”
“Billy Conklin says a boy at school is a queer and shouldn’t be allowed to go there. I don’t really know what Billy is afraid of. The kid’s a runt and doesn’t hang around us anyway.”
“Well, you stay away from those types. They are evil, and will want you to do things against God’s way.”
“Now, Richard, don’t be so harsh. We don’t know anything about this boy and he certainly couldn’t be that way at that age,” interjected his mother.
“Marcia, you stay out of this. I don’t want Mike to get involved with anyone who might be of that type. Mike’s friends are probably right. They’ve been here a lot longer and should know.”
His parents never really addressed the issue with either of the children. They would hear the terms, derogatory and correct, used by other children and over the years had picked up a general idea about the group of people known as homosexuals. Fortunately, both Mike and Mary Katherine would find out the truth sooner and more correctly than their father ever wanted them to.
At school, Mike found that because the school did not have a gymnasium the rainy day had to be spent in the classroom. During the normal recess periods they would spend the time doing artwork, crafts and music. That was okay with Mike as he wanted to learn to play the guitar and liked music in general.
About mid-morning Billy Conklin stood up and loudly proclaimed, “Mrs. Simpson, I gotta take a crap.”
A number of the classmates snickered.
“Billy Conklin, watch your language. That was totally unnecessary. You may go, but next time, ask properly.”
Billy swaggered out of the class.
It was a few minutes later that a shrill, agony filled scream filled the air.
Mrs. Simpson jumped up saying, “Oh my God,” and headed for the door. There was the sound of several other classroom doors opening and footsteps running down the hall toward the boys’ restroom. When the door to the boys’ room opened, they could hear someone crying, obviously in pain.
It was several minutes later when Mrs. Simpson came back to the classroom. She had blood on her blouse and Billy was not with her. The first thought through many of the children’s mind was that Billy had been hurt. Mike and some others didn’t think it sounded like Billy. Mrs. Simpson didn’t want to talk about what happened. Before Mrs. Simpson had returned, Mike heard several people walking down the hall from the restroom towards the principal’s office. About a half an hour after that the class phone rang and after talking to the person on the other end, Mrs. Simpson hung the phone up and turned toward Mike.
“Michael you are to report to the Principal’s office and wait in the reception area.”
Mike was stunned. What possibly happened that would involve him? He got up and hurried to the Principal’s office dreading the unknown. He came in just as Freddy Smith was entering Mr. Parker’s office. He could hear a conversation there; however, he noticed some activity in the nurse’s office also.
Just then, the door to the nurse’s office opened and a handsome man came out leading Joey Beebe by the hand. Joey’s face was red and there was blood around his nose and all over his shirt. Now Mike knew where the screams and crying had come from. He did not know exactly what had happened, but he knew without question that Billy Conklin was involved.
A cold chill went through his body. He stared at Joey and something happened at that moment that would seal their fates forever. Suddenly, all the harassment Mike had been part of didn’t seem like so much fun anymore. He realized this wasn’t an object of some humorous teasing. This was a person, a person who had been hurt, maybe badly. He didn’t know Joey, but was sure he would someday. He felt like shit.
Mr. Frazier called him in the office and closed the door.
“Mike, I have a couple of questions and then you may go back to class. First, do you remember an incident last week at lunch when a boy fell in the cafeteria and spilled his lunch?”
“Would you please tell me what happened?”
Mike knew his goose was cooked and his two ‘friends’ would never be his friends again.
“Yes Sir, He tripped and fell.”
“How did he trip, Mike?”
“Billy Conklin tripped him. He told us he was going to. He said the little fairy had it coming.”
“Why did he have it coming?”
“I’m not sure. He said he was a loser and was a queer.”
“Okay, Mike, you may go back to your class. However, I want you to know this. This person you call a loser is the smartest student in the school. This loser is a talented musician and artist. Maybe this person is not the best athlete out there; but he is a person. I just wish I had taken him more seriously. I owe several people an apology, including that blood covered little boy. I advise you to pick your friends and associates more carefully from now on.”
Mike got up and went back into the reception area where Joey and his dad waited. As Mike came out, Joey peered up at him. A tingly chill went down Mike’s spine. He had to do something and he never wanted to be part of anything like what had been going on again. He walked up to Joey and looked into his large blue eyes, “I’m sorry Joey. Please forgive me. I’ll try to make sure this never happens again.”
Mike turned and went out the door to class. He felt like crying, but at the same time, he felt better than he had for a long time.
‘So that’s when it happened to him, too,’ Kate thought. ‘That was a magic moment.’
Kate looked at Mike and tried to sense how he felt.
“Mike, if telling this is bothering you, we can stop. I certainly don’t want to upset you. You’ve been through enough these last few days.”
“I don’t think I mind. It’s almost like I need to talk about it. Besides, I don’t seem to have much else to do.”
Kate glanced at her watch. The other nurses would call her if there were any problems. Taking a quick look at Mike’s readings, she decided there wouldn’t be any harm in his continuing.
Chapter 12. More Corroborative Evidence
The cruelty of Mike’s father was becoming more and more evident. The incident resulting in Joey and Mike going to the hospital for the first time brought more of it out. It revealed something else. Mike’s sister was a special person, and she was bothered as much as Mike was about their father and his reaction to the young Joey. Kate was beginning to like her and hoped that they might meet some day.
The vituperative response of Mike’s father at the emergency room after Mike and Joey were attacked by Billy and Freddy were beyond belief.
Mike had no idea what was going on. He’d never seen his father act like that and it scared him. As he headed toward the car from the emergency room, he noticed his mother was in tears. That was all it took. They both got in the car with tears streaming down their faces. For no apparent reason Mike’s dad was destroying the relationship that Mike and Joey had. Mike knew that Joey was a true friend, and he just couldn’t figure out why his father was that way.
When they got home Marcia told Mike to go upstairs and get cleaned up and wait until he was called for dinner.
“Mike, what in the world is going on?” said Mary, “Where have you and Mom been?”
Mike gave Mary the whole story, including their dad’s tirade.
“Something’s not right with Dad, Mike. He’s been acting real funny ever since he decided we had to move here so he could run for that City Council position.”
Mike was close to tears again, “Mary, he said Joey was a homosexual and that I could never see him again. Joey was my friend, and he needs a friend. That’s not fair!”
“Mike, I like Joey too. I sure wish we could do something.”
Suddenly they could hear shouting from downstairs. Their father had arrived and was still carrying on about the afternoon’s events. They couldn’t hear everything, but they could certainly get the gist of the conversation. They did notice one thing, though. Their mother was holding up well against him. Usually, if there was an argument or disagreement, their mother would quietly retreat after a few words. Richard seemed to enjoy dominating her. Things finally quieted a bit and they were eventually called for dinner.
Dinner was uncomfortably quiet. After dinner, Richard went to his office to do some campaign work. Mary and her mother did the dishes and Mike helped out a bit. Both the kids could see their mother was holding back tears; however, as time passed, she suddenly started getting a look of resolve on her face. Maybe something good was going to happen.
Suddenly, they could hear Richard calling for Mary. Mary, rather reluctantly went to see what he wanted.
“Mary, I need you to do something for me. We have had an incident happen that could seriously damage my campaign for the City Council. That little Beebe boy, Joey, is having a bad influence on your brother. The little f-, er, boy is not of the type we should be associating with, especially Mike. Mike is starting to grow up and people like this Joey could seriously harm his moral development and I can’t afford to have it come out publicly that Mike is cavorting with his type.
“I want you to make sure that Mike stays away from that boy this summer. If Mike gets any phone calls, I want you to listen in and let me know if they are from that thing, er, boy. We just can’t have it. For the sake of this family, I need your help. Would you do that? And, above all, don’t tell anyone what you are doing.”
“Okay, Daddy. I’ll be sure to let you know.”
“Thanks. This will be a big help so I can win this election. It is very important. Now, run along. I have a lot of work to do.”
'Yeah, like destroying more friendships,' Mary thought.
Later that night when their parents had gone to bed, Mary quietly walked into Mike’s room. “Mike, are you asleep?”
“No, I can’t get comfortable with this rib. I guess I’m going to have to learn to sleep on my back for a while.”
Mary proceeded to relate to Mike the conversation she’d had earlier with their father along with her thoughts. “Mike, Dad’s not right. It’s like he is being eaten up by this election. There’s nothing wrong with Joey other than the fact he is small for his age and looks like a girl. He can’t help that. I think Dad has a thing about homosexuals. He thinks they are evil. He’s just like those people at that awful church we have to go to. I can’t wait until I can go to the church I want to.
“You are a good brother, Mike, even though you can be a pain in the ass at times.”
“You, too,” interjected Mike.
“Touché. Did you know my friend Elise is a lesbian? I found out at a sleepover we had a few weeks ago. She asked me how I felt about it and I said I wasn’t really interested in that sort of thing. She said that it was okay with her. She just wanted me to find out from her rather than someone else. She has a steady and just wanted to really find out what I thought about it. I told her that she was the first one I ever knew; however, if we could still be friends it was okay with me.
“Anyway, I don’t think Joey is gay. Besides, why should anyone care? I think it’s a bit early to tell and that is strictly up to Joey anyway. Has he ever tried to come on to you? You know, tried to do anything weird with you?”
“I’m not sure what you mean, Mary. I keep hearing people use these words, like Dad has done a few times, but they don’t really mean much to me. Joey has been a friend to me and that’s all I know. He didn’t have to. After all, I was pretty nasty to him.”
Mike gave Mary a brief accounting of some of the previous events. She knew about the black eyes from their hike; however, she was not aware of the depth of the problem with Billy and Freddy. Mike’s early accounting of that and previous day’s events had left out a lot of background material.
“Joey’s a good kid. Mr. Frazier told me that he is the smartest kid in school. He is not an athlete and he acts a bit like a girl. He doesn’t try to. He just can’t help it. As far as I know, he has never hurt anyone. I don’t care what he is. He’s a friend and now Dad has fucked that up.” Mike teared up and Mary was a bit startled by his language.
“Mike, maybe we can work something out so that you can talk to Joey. I’m going to try to help, but we have to keep it quiet. Dad isn’t right and I don’t think Mom is going to go along with him. We’ll work something out. Let’s go to bed. We have a summer ahead of us.”
Mike’s comments about the hearing conducted for Billy and Freddy just supported more about the intolerance of his father. Then there was the incident in the mall and once again Mike’s father showed his colors. His cruelty toward Joey was beyond belief.
“Dad, he just came up to me. I told him you didn’t want him around me.”
“Okay, Mike, you tell him that you never want him to talk to you again. And do it now.”
Mike was in near tears, but he did as his dad told him even if he didn’t sound convincing.
Mr. O’Donnell grabbed his son and yanked him away.
“Don’t you ever come around my son again, you little freak. Do you understand? If you do, I will see to it that you and your family are run out of town along with their queer friends.”
Joey stood there with a look of disbelief on his face and tears welling in his eyes. Mike could only try to look back as his dad literally pulled him out of the mall. Richard hung his suit on the back seat coat hanger while Mike got into the car. His dad was fuming and said nothing other than, “Go to your room,” when they got back to the house.
Mike went up the stairs and slammed shut the door to his room. He sat on the edge of his bed, trying not to cry. There was a quiet knock on the door.
“Michael, may I come in?” It was Mary.
“Sure, come in.”
“Okay, what is it this time? What did Dad do? He and Mom are having a not too quiet discussion out in the workshop and Mom is really letting him have it.”
Mike told Mary the whole sorry story.
“Jesus, that poor little boy. What is Dad’s problem? Why can’t Dad leave him alone?”
Richard O’Donnell and Marcia had come in and were still talking rather heatedly. The phone rang and momentarily put a stop to the conversation.
“Look, nothing much happened. Your son came up when we were leaving the mall and wanted to talk to Mike. Nothing really happened. I think he has an overactive imagination among other things. That’s just a bunch of lies ….
“Look, I just told my son he was not to see Joey ….
“I am certainly not homophobic. Those people have no business in this or any community and should stay away from God fearing, true Christians and that goes for you and your heathen family.”
The phone was placed not very gently on the cradle.
The children heard every word of their dad’s conversation. They just looked at each other and shook their heads. What a way to start the summer.
Mike’s father’s homophobic attitude was obvious; however, there seemed to be an underlying current of something else. First there was the incident in the park and then there was the City Council meeting.
The Beebes were gone for two weeks on a camping trip, so, at least Mike didn’t have to worry about being seen with Joey. He had not really had time to develop many friendships other than with Joey; however, he found some pickup softball games at the park and he was able to play during the week. His rib had healed quickly and throwing the ball and swinging the bat didn’t bother him at all. It was relatively easy for him to get to the park and if it wasn’t baseball, there might be a game of horse at the basketball court. Mike was not very tall, but he wasn’t a bad shot.
One afternoon he was sitting at a picnic table under the pergola and noticed his dad pulling into a parking slot on the street. “Great,” thought Mike, “Now he’s going to drag me off somewhere.”
That wasn’t to happen. As Mike watched, his dad got out of the car and walked over to another car parked two slots away. Two men were in the car and they got out a moment after Richard approached them. All three went to the back of Richard’s car and proceeded to carry some boxes back to the trunk of the other car. Mike suddenly realized who the other two men were. They were Earl Scroggins and Al Conklin. He remembered Mr. Conklin from the juvenile hearing and Mr. Scroggins from the church. What was his dad doing talking to those nasty men?
Mike told his sister about what he’d seen.
“I can understand why he might be talking to Mr. Scroggins, but why would he want to have anything to do with Billy Conklin’s father?”
Neither one of them could come up with an answer.
Richard and Marcia O’Donnell went to the city council meeting on the Wednesday evening after the incident in the park. Marcia, when she attended, would sit in the rear of the council room just staying out of the limelight. The meeting this night wasn’t any longer than most; however, Mike and Mary realized something must have happened as they could hear their parents arguing when they came in. The arguing stopped when they saw the children.
“Go on and get ready for bed. It’s late,” said Marcia. “Your dad and I have a lot to talk about.”
Mike was in his room trying to read a Boy’s Life, but he could hear his parents starting to argue again. His door slowly opened and Mary stuck her head in. She usually knocked.
“Mike,” she whispered, “you’ve got to come to my room and listen. They’re arguing about you and Joey.”
Mary’s room was above her parent’s, and they shared a common air conditioning duct. She had Joey walk in as quietly as he could, though in light of the loudness of the argument going on, it was probably not necessary. They sat by the floor vent and listened.
“Richard, I have had it up to here with you and that group of so called real Americans you are working with. I don’t mind your conservative politics, after all Mom and Dad were early members of the John Birch Society; however, I never can recall them being as hate filled, anti-gay, as you have become these last few years. I thought you were just distributing more political literature and now I see it is hate filled filth. I am ashamed that Dad’s print shop was used to print it.”
“Marcia, it is our God given duty to rid the world of these homosexual heathens.”
“Do you mean that the Christian and Jewish homosexuals are alright?”
“Don’t mock me, Marcia. You know damn well what I mean. These people are evil. They are trying to seduce our children into their evil ways. That pansy Beebe kid is trying to enlist our son into their sick world.”
“If you are talking about being sick, I think you are talking about yourself and that bunch you are associating with. I can understand your wanting to create political allies for your election; however, I don’t see how your anti-homosexual obsession has any valid reason for being. I think you need counseling.
“From what I’ve picked up listening to your friends is that you are part of some sort of political agenda. You have never confided in me about what these people have in mind; however, I’m sure that you must display a strong, American family man image. You can’t afford any scandals.
“What you have done to that Beebe child is cruel and unforgivable. All he wanted was to have a friend, and that’s all Mike wanted. They are 11-year-old children. There certainly can’t be any evil intentions there. I want those children to have a normal summer and life. You cannot forbid Mike from seeing Joey.”
“I did, and that won’t change.”
“Oh, yes it will. I have had it with you and I will not stand for this any longer. If I divorce you, you will have nothing. The printing business is mine, and although you run it at the moment, I will have no reservations whatsoever about kicking you out. What would that do for your political career? You are going to allow Mike and Joey to meet and play as normal children.”
“Only if Mary is with them and that freak is not allowed in this house.” Richard was backpedaling.
“I am not sure I understand why.”
“I just don’t want that child around here.”
“Alright, Mary can accompany them.” Marcia knew that Mary was interested in meeting Joey’s older brother and she would probably agree. She was going to tell Mary that she did not have to stay very close, anyway. She was willing to do what it would take to let the youngsters be happy. She and Richard might be together for a while, but she knew they were through.
Mary and Mike heard a lot more than they ever expected to. All of a sudden they realized that their parents were not in love, and that their mother was likely to divorce their father.
The next morning Marcia talked to Mike and Mary at breakfast. She told Mike that it was alright for him to play with Joey; however, Mary would have to be close by. Both children acted as if they hadn’t heard any of this before and shared knowing glances. After breakfast, Mike called Joey and told him about his dad’s backing off. Needless to say, Joey was ecstatic.
Mike talked about a big fire and it became obvious it was the same one that Jo had talked about. Kate hadn’t paid much attention to the story the first time. She remembered Jo saying that some friends house had been vandalized but that the fire damage to homes in the area was minimal. Suddenly the story took on a whole new perspective.
Summer vacation ended too soon. Mike was happy that Billy was away and he wouldn’t have to worry about dealing with him every day. Too soon they were back into the school routine. The first week was uneventful. Then there was the big fire. It had been very hot and windy. Because of the smoke and the uncertainty of where the fire was going, school had been canceled. Most businesses in Loma Sierra had also closed. Mike’s dad went to the print shop in Arcadia, as it was many miles from Loma Sierra.
Mike and MK were able to go to the Beebes and play with the kids. The Beebes had put up the Andersons and the two guys from the antique store. The house was crowded to say the least, but the children were able to keep themselves occupied and stay out of the adults’ way.
More revelations appeared next morning at the O’Donnells house. Mike had come downstairs for breakfast and his dad was watching television. A news reporter was up in the canyon talking about something that had happened earlier. The view switched to an earlier take and Mike saw Mr. Scroggins being put into a patrol car while protesting his innocence.
“Those dumb sons of bitches. I told them to be careful. Why in the hell did they have to do that now?”
Mike stood staring at his father. What was he talking about?
Richard took a quick glance at Mike, grabbed his briefcase and strode out the door. Mike sat and watched the rest of the broadcast. They were talking about the vandalizing of a house up in the evacuated area of the canyon. Apparently, Mr. Scroggins and some other person had been painting things on houses and Scroggins had been caught. And, his father had something to do with it. Mike didn’t feel very well.
Marcia had walked into the breakfast area as Richard had made his comments and walked out of the house without acknowledging his wife. She stood there taking in the news broadcast, wondering what was going on. She sat next to Mike.
“Mike, what is going on? Why did your father say what he did?”
Mike told her about the arrest of Earl Scroggins and his dad’s reaction.
Kate listened as Mike told how happy he and Joey were to be together without the harassment of Billy and Freddy. He’d been accepted by the other students and Joey had come out of his shell. He seemed to take to sports more and was starting to sprout (As it would turn out in more ways than one.) Then there was the next to last day of school.
Joey was sick and Mike offered to let Joey ride on the cross bar of his bike to his parents shop rather than have to walk. Everything was fine until Mike was distracted in a way he never thought was possible. Joey had been wearing buttoned shirts that seemed a bit loose to Mike. He never wore T-shirts like most of the boys did, particularly during the warmer times of the year. Joey was a bit hunched over, trying to maintain his balance on the bar. As they cut through the park on the concrete walk, Mike happened to look down and he could see right down the front of Joey’s shirt. Mike couldn’t believe what he saw. Joey had breasts: small but very girly breasts. Mike was shocked. He looked again to make sure.
At Joey’s exclamation that Billy and Freddy were in front of them Mike looked up and saw the two ex-jailbirds sitting at a table next to the walk and he was heading right toward them. Desperate to do something, he searched for an escape route. There might be room between a table and some shrubbery and he tried to head for it. Unfortunately, his front tire caught between a sprinkler head and the walkway. The bike flipped and the two were thrown on the grass, knocking the wind out of both of them. They were helpless and the rest happened just the way Jo had told it.
Mike’s wait in the hospital emergency room had been agonizing and he blamed himself for the accident. He was so relieved when Joey’s parents came out and told him Joey would be okay but would have to stay in the hospital for a while. Then they told him that Joey wanted to see him alone.
Joey seemed to be okay except for the obvious bruising and the tubes that were going into his hand and elsewhere. Mike didn’t understand about catheters at that time nor did he understand how effective the caudal block was in stopping the pain Joey would soon be feeling. Joey was very upbeat and almost seemed to be teasing Mike about his calling him “her”. Joey was his best friend and he couldn’t lie about what he’d seen and he confessed about seeing Joey’s breasts. Joey’s response shocked him to the core and then, suddenly, it was perfectly alright. Joey was Jo. Jo was a girl and that was just fine.
'That’s amazing' thought Kate. She’d just heard the second version of the same story and they were virtually identical where the two were concerned; and, this was 15 years after it had happened. She noticed that Mike appeared a little weary and checked all his vital signs. Everything continued to look good.
She was going to have to find out what happened over the intervening years and try to figure out what was going on now. She was certain of one thing though, and that was that Mike had very strong feelings for Jo. She could feel it written between the lines of everything he had told her.
She took a chance, “Captain, I know this is personal; however, I have one more question. If you don’t answer, I’ll understand. How do you feel about Jo now after all these years?”
Mike looked at her in such a way that she thought he was going to start crying. He moistened his lips a couple of times as he pondered the weight of what he was going to say. He knew the answer but did he want anyone here to know?
“Nurse, what’s your interest in this? Jo and I went our separate ways a long time ago. When I took the job here with the police, I had no idea she was even here. I found out when she came to me about being blackmailed by Billy Conklin and Freddy Smith. God, I wonder what rock they crawled out from under and why did they have to come here?”
“Why did any of you have to come here, Mike? The interesting thing is that all of you did come here. Look, you don’t have to answer my question. It was too personal and I should mind my own business. It’s just as I told you before. I am very fond of Jo and I don’t want to see her hurt. Maybe we can talk some more later on and you can let me know then. I’ll see you after supper if you are up to it.”
As Kate DeMoss walked up the hall she considered all the evidence. She had no doubt that the two were in love with each other; however, something was in the way. Something very serious must have happened.
Mike was a bit confused. Why did that nurse seem to be digging in places he thought were long buried? Why did Jo tell her about them? What did she tell Nurse DeMoss?
The phone by his bed rang its sterile hospital tone. He had to search for it for a moment, as this was his first opportunity to use it. He hadn’t received any calls since he had been there and hadn’t really thought about calling anyone in his family. The only visitors he had were his co-workers. Maybe Jo had been on his mind more than he realized.
“Mike, are you alright? What happened? Why are you in the hospital?”
“Whoa, slow down MK. Give me a chance. Okay, question number one: I could be better. I’m not dead and there’s no permanent damage. Question number two: I got shot. Question number three: refer to question number two.”
“Mike, I wouldn’t have known anything except I came over to check Mom’s house and the answering machine had a message from your Chief of Police saying you were in the hospital but were going to be okay. Mom is in Europe with Arnie. If I hadn’t come over here, no one would have known you were hurt. What sort of emergency notification system do you have up there? Why aren’t we on the list to call and why didn’t you call?”
“I guess I have a lot on my mind. MK, do you know who my doctor is, who saved my life?”
“Of course not, how would I?”
“Oh, --- my, --- God!”
“Look, things are real complicated right now. MK, she saved my life twice. She may have killed Billy or Freddy to save me. I think I may have saved her life too, for the third time. It’s crazy up here and now my nurse is dragging up old memories. I’m not sure I understand what’s going on.”
“Billy and Freddy! You don’t mean those crazy SOB’s who gave you all that trouble in elementary school.”
“The same, and now they are both dead. One of my fellow officers got one and got shot in the process too. To quote Alice in Wonderland, it just keeps getting curiouser and curiouser.”
“Mike, I’m calling Mom and telling her what happened. I guess from what you said, you are going to be alright. I’m coming up tomorrow. I’ll see you tomorrow afternoon. Don’t go anywhere.”
“Bye MK. I’m glad you called.”
Mike turned back to the television. In spite of the 79 available channels, nothing was on that was very interesting. He checked out the remote and found out how to turn on the FM radio. He found the NPR station and it was playing the program “Adventures in Good Music” with Dr. Karl Haas. It was a repeat program, but he always found them interesting. It was Jo’s fault. She had turned him onto classical music.
Chapter 13: Mike Remembers Junior High School and High School
“Mike, the guitar was and is a classical music instrument. It was around for hundreds of years before rock was even envisioned. Many great pieces of music have been written for the guitar. You’ve heard them and never realized where they came from. I’m going to play a little bit of a piece that I know you’ve heard.”
She turned to the piano, thought a second and played a beautiful but sad refrain.
“I’ll bet you’ve heard that before, haven’t you?”
“Yes, I’ve heard it in several westerns. It sounds Spanish.”
“It is Spanish. Joaquin Rodrigo wrote it. It’s his Adagio from the Concierto de Aranjuez. He wrote it in Paris when he and his wife were exiled from Spain. His wife was pregnant and very ill and he wrote it to express his sadness about her condition. I think she lost the baby but they did have more children. I’m not really sure. Anyway, he wrote the other two movements after a while and it became a guitar concerto. Can you believe this; he is blind. He is still alive and is more than 80 years old.
“Mario Giuliani wrote a lot of classical guitar music. I think Dad has a CD of his music. I’ll have to play it for you sometime. Many modern composers have written classical guitar music or at least guitar music that’s not rock and roll or heavy metal. I don’t mean that music is bad. It’s just that there is a lot of music out there that many people are not aware of.
“There’s a lot of Spanish music written for or adapted for the guitar. Here’s one that I’m not sure I can do right. Alicia de Larrocha does this real well. It’s called Asturias.”
She played a few bars of the very rapid notes.
“I’ll bet you’ve heard that one too.”
“I have. How can anyone play that on the guitar? I’m having enough trouble with the simple stuff.”
“There’s a joke attributed to a number of musicians. Basically, a man stops a well know musician on the street in New York City and asks him how to get to Carnegie Hall. The answer is ‘Practice, practice, practice.’
“Music comes very easily to only a few musicians. Some are just better than others. They just understand it better and that makes the mechanics easier. You just have to create the muscle memory. There’s nothing to be ashamed of if you can’t be an outstanding musician. I think it’s more important if you just try to understand music and enjoy it.”
Jo had shown Mike what was on the left side of the radio dial and she’d recommended Adventures in good Music as a very good program to help one learn about music. Mike listened to it in his room after dinner. As he left his dial in the NPR station location, he was able to listen to other NPR broadcasts including news, interviews, talk and other music programs whenever he turned on his radio.
This had really been a strange summer. The strangest thing was that it turned out that his best friend, Joey, now Jo, was a girl. That created some real conflicts. Someone his age wasn’t supposed to have girl friends. But one thing he found out rather quickly was that Joey was still Joey even if she was now Jo. The person was still the same. Oh, some differences were obvious. His sister, MK, was hovering around a lot more. Jo had missed out in most of the girl part of growing up. She, as MK put it, didn’t know shit about makeup and the proper way to dress. Between MK and Linda Beebe they had made a lot of headway. Jo was a fairly quick study. She wasn’t a beauty yet; however, she looked a lot better as a girl than she had trying to look like a boy. She would change considerably as she matured.
Jo’s recovery had been pretty quick, all things considered. She stayed in the hospital a little more than a week and had what she called necessary surgery to correct some minor plumbing problems. Mike didn’t really want to go into details with her about it. All he knew was that it was girl stuff. Jo had to take it easy for another couple of weeks and then was pretty much okay. It was about three weeks after that that she got a bit grumpy; however, at the same time she was a bit upbeat too. Mike felt something was amiss and he finally asked her.
“Mike, I don’t think anyone really explained to you what happened to me. I was always a girl. It’s not like what happened in one of my old fairy stories where a girl is turned into a boy, then back into a girl years later. Young boys and girls look a lot alike for many years; however, around nine or ten girls start to change. I was changing and wondered why, because I still resembled a boy down there. We went to Dr. Scharff, and because of some family history, I was misdiagnosed. All of my insides were girl insides and they continued to develop as they should have. Hormones were starting to be released that made me look more and more like a girl should look. That’s why I have these ‘boobs’ as you call them. The big problem was between my legs. Let’s just say things there had not developed properly.
“It took Billy’s brutality to reveal what we would have found out eventually. I had a thin layer of skin and tissue that had grown together when I was developing in my mother’s womb.
“Is this embarrassing you Mike? We don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to.”
“I didn’t think I’d be ever talking to a girl about this sort of thing, but maybe I need to know. I know a lot of kids are going to be wondering what happened to Joey. What do I say? I’m not going to lie. What would you want me to say?” asked Mike.
“My mom thinks we should just tell the truth. I am not going to run away from what happened. I finally know who and what I am and I couldn’t be happier. I don’t have to make any excuses anymore.
“Anyway, when Billy kicked me he tore that tissue layer, opening up my vagina. Did you know the reason I didn’t feel well that day was that I was having my first period? Oh, I bled and it hurt like hell, but a lot of that blood was menstrual blood and it made things appear even worse. I think your sister has explained that situation adequately enough to you, hasn’t she?
“That’s a long answer to your short question; however, the bottom line is I’m having my second period. It’s kinda’ yucky and I suppose I’ll get used to it. I’m going to have to because I will be saddled with it for the next thirty-five years or so.”
Mike decided that he wouldn’t go there again with Jo. There was such a thing as too much information.
Mike liked being with Jo a lot and he would visit her at her parents’ store frequently, still, he needed/desired companionship of boys his own age so that he could do “boy things” with them. He was allowed to go with the Beebes on some of their adventures in the local area. Of course, MK had to come along and she and Pat kept each other occupied.
Jo needed girl time too. The word got out rather quickly about Billy and Freddy’s attack. Gratefully, the paper didn’t go into a lot of detail. Having violated their probation rather quickly and violently, Billy and Freddy were institutionalized and could look forward to spending the next five plus years in correctional custody. Nothing that would happen there would change them to the better. Fortunately, no one in the local area would have to deal with them for a long time.
When Jo turned up at that first day of junior high, needless to say, there was a lot of interest. Of course, only the students from her elementary school knew anything about her. Fortunately, all her records had been changed to reflect her new name and correct gender. Jim Frazier had seen to that. Andy and Linda were able to get her birth certificate changed rather easily. They had letters from attending physicians and Dr. Scharff attesting to her true gender and stating she had been a victim of a minor birth defect. Still there were problems, not unexpected, that would take several years to go away. Well, not quite go away.
Excerpts From MJ’s Diary
Wednesday, September 13, 1989. Miss Jones read all our compositions. I printed my diary and turned it in last Monday. I noticed mine was bigger than all the rest put together. I got an A, although the grade doesn’t really count. Miss Jones told me that I probably wrote about some things that other people didn’t need to know. She was really happy to know that Jo was okay. I think she knew all along. A couple of kids didn’t even write anything.
Most of the kids had an idea about what happened to Jo, but we have six new kids in the class. Two of them are black, three are Latinos (that is a new word for me) and one is from Germany. Her dad is working with EarthLink and she is going to be here for two years. She’s real nice but doesn’t speak very good English. I don’t speak any German at all. Her name is Katrina Kempf. We made a deal. I’m going to teach her English and she is going to teach me German. Benita is going to teach me Spanish. She was born here, but her parents speak mostly Spanish.
Friday, November 17, 1989. Mom took Jo and me to the doctor today. Dr. Scharff is such a nice man and he feels so bad about Jo. He kept apologizing to her and calling her Liebchen. That means darling or dear one. She kissed him and told him it was alright. She also told him she was going to be a doctor. She may be behind, but she sure is a girl. I really surprised Dr. Scharff when I greeted him in German and then kept talking to him in German. Some of the pronunciation is hard. He said I could come by and practice German with him and his wife at their house. Benita invited me over to her house for dinner tomorrow night. They live close to Arcadia and Dad said he would drive me there and back. That’s going to be neat, because they don’t speak English at home. I am going to have to listen real well.
Saturday, November 18, 1989. I had to write this before I went to sleep. Pat’s downstairs and said I could use the computer until he came back to work on that stupid game. He says he’s found all the treasure, but he can’t figure out what to do next. He’s probably going to have to ask Jo for another hint. Jo told me she is going to tell him what to do because she never would have figured it out if she hadn’t heard the college guys talk about it in the library.
What I wanted to say was I had a great dinner with the Garcias. Boy do they talk fast. Benita had to tell them to speak more slowly. She told them I was trying to learn Spanish. When they found that out, they slowed down a lot. I was even able to figure some of it out. I need to find some books on Spanish and German.
A few students, especially boys would be muttering the same words heard in years past: ‘freak,’ ‘faggot,’ ‘fairy’ and ‘pansy’ ran through the conversations. When Mike heard such scuttle, he would bravely step in and attempt to put an end to the talk. Some thought he protested too much and that he must be queer for defending Jo’s honor. The girls for the most part vigorously defended and protected Jo. She was one of them, although she was still way behind in the social mores of being a girl. Also, she was not a threat to the girls. As her hair grew out and she became more and more feminine in appearance, many of the cheerleader types thought that she would never be competition for them as Jo was rather plain in appearance. She was developing a nice figure that was probably better that many of her classmates’; however, she didn’t try to emphasize it. She didn’t go overboard with her make-up either. It was subtle and really suited her age. Most boys, with exception of Mike, seldom approached her. They may have been put off by the rumors of her origin; however, if they were intimidated by anything, it was that she continued to excel academically. She took many advanced courses and by the time the end of ninth grade had rolled around, she was a semester ahead of her classmates.
Mike continued to do well too. He had started to mature and had grown several inches by ninth grade. He was a star athlete, not that he was number one in any sport. It was that he was always near the top and seemed to come through when his team needed him the most. He wasn’t the fastest nor was he the strongest. He was the most consistent and got the most for his capabilities. He wasn’t a slouch academically, either. When they graduated from ninth grade, Mike was 10th in his class. Of course Jo was number 1. Jo even did well in the athletic department. She’d gained in height and strength and tried to be competitive. California had daily gym classes in junior high and high school. The students would rotate through various sports over the year and Jo found she was the best female middle distance runner in the school. Her eye hand coordination had improved markedly, also. She competed in the interscholastic track meets and did very well, ending up in second place overall in the city. She found she really liked running distances and would run for most of the rest of her life. She never did compete in high school or college, in spite of encouragement from others. Academics and music were too important.
Jo and Mike would walk home together after school on most days. Mike liked to ride his bike (He had outgrown his first one.), but he was just happier walking home with Jo. They would often stop at her parents’ store and they would play music together. Mike had become a respectable guitar player and was taking lessons at school. Jo continued with advanced lessons and the talk was she should become a professional musician. She found some guitar sonatas by Paganini, the famous violinist and they tried to play parts together. It was really beyond his capabilities at that time, but Jo would encourage him and he continued to improve.
Excerpt From MJ’s Diary
August 22, 1991. We received some great news today. They are going to let me take Spanish and German. We had petitioned the Board of Education to let me take Spanish. They don’t normally let students take a foreign language until the 9th grade. We told them I already understood Spanish and German, but they didn’t believe me. They brought in a couple of teachers and asked me to translate some things from a book that was written in Spanish. They really pissed me off when they accused me of memorizing the story. How I would know what they were going to give me is beyond me. Anyway, they gave me something else to read. It was Cervantes. I was real mad so I translated it directly to German. They got real embarrassed and apologized to mom and me. They are going to fix it so I can go to high school and take the advanced courses. They said the junior high courses wouldn’t do me any good. I’m going to have to thank the Garcias and Kempfs. Katrina and I write to each other. She writes in English and I write in German.
Mike and Jo are going to be in the 9th grade. Jo is getting real tall. She would really look good if she’d seriously work on her makeup and she is really getting a good body. I think I’m jealous. I remember what she looked like down there before the attack and now I see her in the bathroom when she is using the shower and she looks just like me, except she has more hair. At least she shaves her legs and pits. She and Mike are almost inseparable. It’s real strange, though. They never get all kissy face or anything like that, but I know they really like each other a lot. Mike is learning to play the guitar. He’s not very good and he never plays any good stuff, just that old music. I almost forgot; Jo is going to be on the track team. She likes to run and does those longer races.
High school was upon them before they realized it. When school started, both Mike and Jo were 15. Mike developed his own circle of friends due to his athleticism. He was now 5 foot eleven inches and weighed a well-packed 175 pounds. He really loved baseball and was a starter all three years in high school and made all conference as an outfielder. He also excelled at golf and by the time he graduated was a 2 handicapper. He would play golf most of the rest of his life. Academically, Mike would remain in the top 10 percent of his class. This would result in a very fortunate outcome later on.
Jo continued to take all the upper level courses and excelled in all of them and this resulted in a good news-bad news situation in that she was able to graduate a year before her peers.
Mike and Jo remained good buddies throughout high school; however, the social pressures forced them apart more and more. Jo never seriously dated anyone during that time. Mike would often accompany the Beebes, at their invitation, on various outings. Mike could have had his pick among most of the girls at school; however, nothing ever clicked with any of them. He seldom dated any girl more than once and never tried to push things very far. Maybe he was too old fashioned. He felt that if he were going to have a relationship with a girl, he would have to feel something for her.
Mike got his drivers license shortly after his 16th birthday. He didn’t really want to. It was just that it was a social necessity. Besides, everyone did it. His lack of desire showed the first time he took the behind the wheel portion of the test. He failed it rather easily, as he really screwed up the parallel parking portion. His driving skills were not bad, but in spite of knowing he would have to pass the parking portion in order to pass the test, he just didn’t care that much about it. His mom took him out and made him practice seriously until he really understood how to do it. He passed easily two weeks later.
Having passed the test and now possessing the all-important license, probably much against his wishes, he just became that much more desirable in the eyes of many of the girls. One girl, Cindy Howell, decided Mike was going to be her next conquest. She had the reputation among some of the students as being a bit too easy. If it had been possible, she probably would have had a trophy room with the mounted heads of her conquests. The problem was there also would have been trophy cases with her conquests’ broken hearts. The trouble with Cindy was that her attitude sucked. She was rapacious. There was no love or admiration involved. It was just a ‘trophy fuck’.
In their junior year, Cindy started her campaign to conquer Mike. She would always be at the ball games cheering loudly for Mike and almost making a spectacle when he came through at the plate or on the field. Soon his teammates were goading him on to get with her. Mike wasn’t sure how it happened and when he looked back on it later, he realized he’d been manipulated very skillfully into asking Cindy out.
It was one of those beautiful spring evenings that occurred after a storm had passed through the area. The sky was exceptionally clear and just a bit of a nip was in the air. This was not, by any means, Mike’s first date, although most of the dates he did have were usually in group events or double dating and all were very innocent affairs. He’d decided to make the best of it and have a good time with Cindy. She was very pretty in an overdone sort of way. He drove to her house and politely rang the doorbell. Cindy’s mother greeted him.
“Come on in Mike. Cindy will be ready in a few minutes.” She was smoking a Salem and the house reeked of tobacco smoke.
Somewhere in Mike’s subconscious he realized it was the same smell he associated with Cindy.
“Thank you Mrs. Howell.”
“Oh, call me Gloria. Everyone does.
“Cindy tells me you are quite the athlete. Are you going to play professional baseball?”
“I like baseball a lot Mrs. Howell, er, Gloria, but I don’t want to get too serious about it. I think with some good coaching, I could be a good ball player; however, if all I do is to try to be a ball player and I get hurt, I don’t have much to fall back on.”
“What do you want to do, dear?”
“I am thinking about going into law enforcement or a related field. I think I might be able to do a lot of good there.”
“Well, we certainly need to put all those criminals in jail where they belong.”
“Actually, I was hoping to do something to keep them from getting in trouble in the first place. I think a lot of kids out there, if I could point them in the right direction, would never get into a situation where they would have to go to jail.”
“That sounds very nice dear, but there’s no money in being a cop. You ought to stick with baseball. You could make millions there.”
‘Right,’ thought Mike, ‘the odds are less than one in a thousand of me getting into major league baseball.’
“Oh, Mike, here comes Cindy. Isn’t she pretty! I just know you are going to have a good time. Be good.”
“I intend to, Mom.”
‘An obvious double entendre,’ thought Mike. ‘What am I getting into?’
Mike took Cindy to the Acropolis a very nice Greek restaurant: one that he had been to with the Beebes years before. Suddenly he realized that he wished it had been Jo who was with him. Mike was familiar with the menu and ordered for both of them. He thought a Greek salad would be a good way to start and they would follow that up with some dolmades. He felt they couldn’t go wrong with shish kabob for the main course and they would check on the dessert after dinner.
The whole thing was probably a mistake. Cindy picked out all the ingredients that make a Greek salad Greek and toyed with the lettuce. A little pile of feta, olives and peppers were beside her salad dish when she was through. Mike knew the dolmades would be a disaster and he was right.
“Oooo, what are these? Are these leaves? Yuck!”
Mike tried to explain the whole thing and actually got her to try the insides (lamb and rice), but she wouldn’t try the delicious grape leaves. ‘What a waste,’ Mike thought.
The shish Kabob was much better received, although she couldn’t be tempted to eat the grilled vegetables and mushrooms. The rice pilaf was a success, though.
For desert, Mike ordered some baklava and ice cream with honey drizzled on it. Cindy devoured that.
After dinner, they went to the local theater. The movie was supposed to be good although it was not mainstream. While they were getting their tickets, Mike noticed Matt Cassil and Roger Copeland in the line behind them.
“Mr. Cassil, Mr. Copeland, how are you doing this evening?”
“Fine, Mike. It is certainly a beautiful evening, isn’t it,” replied Matt.
“Cindy, I would like you to meet two friends of mine, Mr. Matt Cassil and Mr. Roger Copeland. Matt and Roger this is Cindy Howell, a friend from school.”
“It’s nice to meet you Cindy.”
Cindy did not offer her hand. “Thank you, it’s been nice meeting you.”
“Enjoy the movie,” said Roger. “It won prizes in Cannes.”
Once they got in the theater, Cindy whispered into Mike’s ear not too quietly, “Mike, why would you want to associate with those two queers. Everyone knows they are queer.”
“Cindy, Matt saved my life once. They are both very nice people and they certainly don’t have any designs on me. They are just good friends.”
“Oh, I see.”
“Look, they are gay. They don’t want me sexually. We are just friends.”
Mike enjoyed the movie, although some of it was a bit over his head. Cindy could have cared less about it. She did start to put her plan into action though. She snuggled up to Mike complaining about the chill. She managed to get Mike to put his arm around her shoulders. It was easy from there to encourage her breast into his hand. Mike was less than enthusiastic in his response. Cindy decided to go a bit further and moved her hand into Mike’s lap. What she found pleased her. Maybe she would get some action after all.
Mike hadn’t experienced this degree of forwardness in any of his previous dates and he was a bit uneasy. Still the attention was not unappreciated and he rose to the occasion.
“Mike, why don’t we leave and go somewhere where we can get a bit more comfortable?”
“Okay, if you want.”
They slid out of their seats and headed for the exit, an event not unnoticed by Matt and Roger. They were both a bit sad. Mike was not with the girl he should be with.
Cindy excused herself to go to the ‘little girls room’. After taking care of things, she put her panties into her purse. She came out and latched onto Mike’s arm and pulled herself up close to him.
As they headed for the car, she knew she had to keep her plan going.
“Mike, it’s still early and I don’t have to be home for a while. Let’s go up the hill and look at the city lights. I’ll bet we can see all the way to Long Beach.”
Mike held the door for her and as she got in the car, she let her skirt slide up almost all the way, giving him a shot of what might be to come. The light wasn’t great, but Mike was pretty sure what he saw the edge of and it wasn’t Long Beach. They proceeded up the hill to where one of those new housing developments was going in. The site preparation involved cutting notches into the alluvial soil left during a previous ice age. The soil was light orange and the gashes cut into it stood out when looking from the flatter lands below. The streets were in and the streetlights were there too but not turned on yet. They found one street that was a cul de sac ending in an overlook of the valley. Cindy was right. You could see all the way to Long Beach; however, that was not the sight she had in mind.
Mike stopped the car and sat looking at the sea of lights. Cindy moved in for the kill. She started breathing in and nibbling on his ear all the time caressing his growing erection through his trousers. The body was willing even if the soul wasn’t. Soon, they were kissing and the tongue action seemed to come naturally to him even though he had never gone this far before. Somehow her blouse had been released from her skirt and was unbuttoned. Her bra found itself unfastened and on the floor of the car. It didn’t take much longer for his trousers to be slipped down his thighs. Cindy had definitely taken charge.
As Cindy freed his erection from its confines, she made little endearing sounds as if she were talking to it and in a sense she was. Mike wasn’t ‘huge,’ but he was certainly big enough to please Cindy. She had Mike recline the seat back and slide down a bit. She’d retrieved a condom from her purse, unwrapped it and gently unrolled it down his erection. She then straddled him and lowered herself onto her target. Fortunately, in some respects, even though Mike was fully aroused, his heart wasn’t in it. As she sank down to the hilt, she leaned forward so he could nurse on her suspended breasts, then started the motions she was well practiced at. Mike’s indifference caused Cindy to work harder than she ever had before. Her past experiences had been basically getting the guy off as quickly as she could. With most of her conquests that had been no problem; the over-aroused youths would orgasm sometimes within seconds of penetrating her. This was definitely not the case this time.
The problem was Mike in his mind was not fucking Cindy; he was making love to Jo. It was something he realized he had wished for, for a long time and now that first time was gone forever. His endurance was something Cindy had never experienced. She was starting to perspire and a warm glow spread from her thighs to her breasts. An increasing tension and a tingling started at the back of her neck and ran down her spine. She suddenly came like she never had before. Then she came again and again. Her arms collapsed and she fell against Mike’s chest. She was breathing as if she’d just completed a 400-meter sprint. Mike came at about the same time; however, it was hardly earth shattering. It was more like a good sneeze. He’d many more pleasurable experiences in the shower with his friendly bar of soap.
When she regained her breath, Cindy rolled off of Mike. Somehow her plan to add Mike to her list of conquests had taken a strange twist. The conqueror had become the conquered and quite frankly, Cindy was not prepared to handle it. Throughout their coupling, Mike had said nothing and he continued to say nothing. Cindy was used to her previous conquests professing their love for her. She’d quickly dress and then denigrate her partners’ performance. She had a library of insults and cutting remarks designed to extricate her from the possibility of any permanent relationship, that is, as permanent as anything could be at their age. She knew that was not going to be possible this time. Her powerful orgasms, her first multiple, each stronger than any she had previously experienced, and her obvious physical and vocal displays made denying her pleasure an impossibility.
“Mike, it’s getting late and I probably need to get home.”
She inserted a panty liner into the panties she’d retrieved from her purse and after cleansing herself with a towelette, slipped the panties back on and proceeded to get dressed. She passed a towelette to Mike, something she’d never done before for any of her other conquests.
Mike managed to get his clothes back on, dispose of the condom and readjust the front seat. The windows had fogged up due to their exertions and Mike started the car and turned on the window defogger. He sat there trying to figure out what to do about what had happened. He was really at a loss. From the stories he’d heard and read, he had just experienced a rite of passage; however, there wasn’t really anything special about it. So, he got his rocks off. He could do that just about whenever he wanted to, without the help from a partner. He couldn’t help but think of a song he heard Jo play and sing one time. She said Cole Porter wrote it:
“It's the wrong time, and the wrong place
Though your face is charming, it's the wrong face
It's not her face, but such a charming face
That it's all right with me
It's the wrong song, in the wrong style
Though your smile is lovely, it's the wrong smile
It's not her smile, but such a lovely smile
That it's all right with me
You can't know how happy I am that we met
I'm strangely attracted to you
There's someone I'm trying so hard to forget
Don't you want to forget someone, too?
It's the wrong game, with the wrong chips
Though your lips are tempting, they're the wrong lips
They're not her lips, but they're such tempting lips
That, if some night, you are free
Then it's all right, yes, it's all right with me”
Copyright Cole Porter 1953
The only trouble was the words were not quite right. They should have been written, “But it’s not all right with me.” It was definitely not right with him and if he knew Cindy at all, after what he was going to tell her he was going to be dead meat. His friendship with Jo was going to be destroyed.
He turned and looked at Cindy. “Cindy, what did we just do?”
“Why, we fucked. Didn’t you like it?”
“Whether or not I liked it is beside the point. The problem is we just fucked. We didn’t make love. We just fucked.
“I want more out of life than that. You are a very pretty girl and you deserve to get more out of life than a quick fuck in the front seat of somebody’s car. I’ve seen what you do to the other guys and against my better judgment ignored all the danger signs. If you want to make me miserable, go right ahead. You won’t even be in the ballpark with me as far as making me miserable. I have done more than enough to make me miserable for a long time. You took something from me that I will never have again, something that I will never be able to give someone special in my life, someone who doesn’t realize how special she is.
“Don’t you ever think about what you are going to be doing ten years from now? I know I do and I realized tonight what I want.”
Cindy looked at him in a way she had never looked at anyone before. She was supposed to be destroying him, and she did; however, it was in a way she never anticipated. Now he was doing it to her. The whole premise she had in destroying men had evaporated into thin air.
Her problem was that her mother had been hurt by her father years before and she was extremely bitter. Ever since her father had left and disappeared to who knows where, her mother could do nothing but say what despicable creatures he and all men were. She taught her daughter to take from them all and dump them at the first opportunity. She wanted Cindy to marry rich, then shed herself of the slob and take him for all he was worth. That was the point of her asking Mike if he was going to be a professional ball player. All she could see was the money Cindy would get out of it.
By this time Cindy was crying openly, something she hadn’t done in years.
“You son of a bitch, what right do you have talking to me like that after what we just did?”
“I have every right in the world; however, what happened here tonight needs to stay between us. I’m not going to tell everyone I know that you are an easy lay. You don’t deserve that. I’m hoping that you won’t brag to your associates about how pitiful my performance was, although something tells me you were more than satisfied, something that surprises me as you were my first. I would hope that you will keep that quiet too.
“Not all men are shitheads trying to lay every sweet thing out there and as strange as it may seem to you, I’m not either. Your reputation is out there and maybe I thought I would get ‘lucky’. In reality, all I wanted was a nice evening. If I had realized what price I was going to pay for this, I would have taken you home after the movie.
“I don’t hate you, Cindy. I don’t even dislike you. I know this: we are not made for each other and I am certainly not going to try to hold on to you. Will you trust me to be your friend and nothing more? Things may work out for the both of us.
“Cindy, fix your makeup and let’s get you home. Just friends, and I mean it sincerely and I’ll try to work things out.”
Excerpt From MJ’s Diary
April 9, 1994. Jo is not happy about something and I think I know what it is. Mike has a date with some hussy. Jo makes like she doesn’t care when Mike goes out with someone else and that is something that he doesn’t do very often. He and Jo go out once in a while, but I don’t think they do anything. Maybe that’s just as well. Jo acts like she is in sixth grade sometimes. I know she loves Mike and I’m pretty sure Mike loves her. You would never know it if you didn’t know them as long as I have. It’s almost like they are afraid to say anything to each other. Still, I think Mom and Dad know they love each other. Hell, they’re only 16.
Mike was true to his word and never talked to anyone at the school about his evening with Cindy. Cindy was almost embarrassed to be seen talking to him; however, no one else other than Jo really paid much attention and Jo didn’t really think seriously about it. She had a lot more on her mind at the moment. She’d just found out she was going to be allowed to graduate at the end of the semester a full year ahead of her contemporaries. She had the highest grade point average in her class, a perfect 4.0. She’d taken the College Board exams and had finished at the top in those too.
The Beebe’s were not wealthy; however, enough money was in the trust to get her into most of the schools in the University of California school system. Pat was already in college and was a freshman at Humboldt State University planning on a career somewhere in the natural resources area. If he did well enough, he might try for a graduate degree there or elsewhere. Things were made a lot easier for the Beebes when Jo found out that a number of schools in the state were very interested in her being a student at their university. Her musical talents were well known throughout the California school systems. Music would always be a major portion of her life; however, she really wanted to be a Doctor of Medicine.
Mike and Cindy were eating lunch when Jo walked up with a big smile on her face.
“Hi, Cindy. Mike, guess what? They are going to let me graduate this year.”
Mike was both thrilled and devastated. He knew she would be going to college somewhere. He just wasn’t ready for her to be gone next year. They had been together for the better part of seven years and that was going to going to end next fall.
“Where do you think you will go to school, Jo?”
“Well, several of the California schools are offering to pay all my tuition and expenses with the exception of the room and board. The University of California at Davis offers a pre-med curriculum and they have an excellent school of music as well. That’s looking more and more like the place I want to go to.
“I wanted to tell you, Mike. Now I have to go and rent a cap and gown for the graduation ceremony. Talk to you later.”
Cindy looked at Mike who was watching Jo head out of the cafeteria.
“She’s the one, isn’t she, Mike?”
Mike turned and looked at Cindy, fearing the worst.
“Yes, she’s the one. Please don’t hurt her, Cindy.”
“Mike I’ve learned a lot these last few weeks and one is that you are a decent guy. You’ve been a friend to me when you didn’t have to. You made me realize what a bitch I have been and you’ve been true to your word. Why would I want to hurt the one you love? What I want to know is why aren’t you going steady with Jo? She’s not bad looking, she’s the smartest kid in school and she obviously likes you. Why aren’t you two together?”
“Cindy, what do you know about Jo? You didn’t go to the same schools we did before high school.”
“Well, I have heard some strange stories about how she was a boy once. However, that’s not possible. I’ve had gym class with her and believe me, she is definitely a woman. You can’t have a body like hers and periods too and not be a woman.”
“Cindy, what I am going to tell you is not a secret. Still, it is nothing that we wave about on the end of a flagpole. Jo has had a rough life. No, not like you think. Her parents and family are wonderful. She has childhood friends and adult friends who love her dearly. For the first nearly 12 years of her life, everyone thought Jo was a boy. Some schoolmates made her life miserable and two of them are in juvenile hall until they are 18.”
Mike proceeded to give Cindy the Readers Digest version of those years in elementary school.
“The problem is she has an IQ of 200 and has been trying to make up for nearly 12 years of lost girlhood. I made a promise way back when that mess started that I would look out for her and I meant it. However, I can’t take advantage of her. It just wouldn’t be right. It hit me the other night that I probably do love her. Someday she will catch up on growing up. We are almost 17 and there’s a lot of time ahead of us. Maybe someday everything will come together. I can wait.
“Cindy, I’m going to change the subject a bit. Do you know Tony Salcedo?”
“Isn’t he the catcher on your team? He’s kinda’ cute.”
“He asked me about you the other day. He came here in the middle of last semester and doesn’t really know about your past. He knows I dated you once and we seem to be friends. He also noted we are not dating now and you are not dating anyone else. He asked me the other day if I would mind if he asked you out. He’s a good guy and, not that it’s important, has the talent to be a major league ballplayer. He is a bit shy and probably would run if you came on too strong; however, if you are interested, I’ll tell him.”
Tony asked Cindy out at the end of the next ball game. She found she really liked him and could have fun on a date without trying to destroy someone. She waited until their fourth date before jumping his bones. Neither of them was disappointed. They were steadies throughout the rest of high school. Tony got a baseball scholarship to the University of Southern California, one of the best baseball schools in the country. Cindy went to Pasadena City College for two years and was able to transfer to Long Beach State and get a degree in business. They were married between their sophomore and junior years. Mike was Tony’s best man. Cindy wasn’t showing yet; however, it was no secret. Tony was drafted by San Diego in the first round of the college draft and went on to play 15 years in the major leagues. Cindy was his business manager and she made sure there would always be plenty of security for their growing family. She didn’t really have to worry. Gloria loved Tony and her grandchildren and fortunately was able to see all five of them before she succumbed to lung cancer.
Excerpt From Mary Jane’s Diary
April 29, 1994. Two things happened today that really make me wonder about Jo. She comes home today just as excited as can be because she is going to get to graduate a year early. Well, duh! She’s just the smartest kid in school. She won’t get to be Valedictorian because a three-year student was already picked. Anyway, tonight I am working on the computer and suddenly I can hear her crying her heart out. I go to her door and was going to go in when I hear her say, “It was supposed to be me, dammit. It was supposed to be me.” I decided I better leave her alone. I have a feeling I know what happened. Maybe, some day she will tell me. She doesn’t have to, though. Why did he do it, the fool?
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