Burnt Offering

Burnt Offering

by Jennifer Sue

Thanksgiving:

“Where’s Jimmy”? Ron Bedford asked the women busily preparing the big meal for the family as he looked about for his four year old son. “The big game comes on in ten minutes.”

Most shrugged their shoulders. “I think he might be upstairs playing with the girls,” Linda Bedford replied.

Ron sighed as he headed upstairs. Opening the door to Brandi’s bedroom he was not surprised but quite angered to see his youngest son wearing a Disney Belle dress. Brandi and Susan were wearing other Disney Princess dresses. “Jimmy, what the hell are you doing? Get out of that damn dress now! You should have outgrown this sissy faze long ago! There’s no way in hell a son of mine will become a freaking faggot! Brandi, Susan, Jimmy is NOT allowed to play with you again! Jimmy, from now on you play with the boys! If I ever catch you with the girls again I’ll tan your hide! You’ve got five minutes to get your ass down to the family room or you’ll have to stand for supper!”

The three kids exchanged looks of fear and confusion. Their family held to the ‘Spare the rod, spoil the child’ philosophy. The girls helped Jimmy get out of the costume and back into his own clothes. None of them understood why Jimmy had been scolded so severely but knew the threat of not being able to sit was not just hot air.

Jimmy made it down in time only to be plopped onto the sofa beside his dad. As soon as the commercial ended, the pre-game show began. Several times he was scolded for not paying attention before the penalization escalated to cuffs on the back of his head.

Later, on the drive home, Jimmy was repeatedly chastised and belittled by his dad and brothers for being such a sissy. Unfortunately, this was a regular occurrence. Ron pushed the boys to be tough and sports oriented. Tommy and Timmy, twins who were three years older than Jimmy, thrived on and excelled in sports. Being stereo-typical sloppy guys they had no issues getting filthy while rough housing. Jimmy on the other hand didn’t like sports nor getting dirty and certainly didn’t like rough housing. When he was forced to play sports, his lackluster effort was always a call for discipline. Required to play with his older brothers, he usually ended up crying. The older brothers were seldom scolded for making Jimmy cry. In fact, it was usually Jimmy who was punished since boys do not cry.

Once home Jimmy ran to his bedroom to strip out of his clothes so he could take a bath. By the time he finished and left, his brothers were just getting ready for their bath. Safely in bed, he drew his stuffed animals into a pile on the bed, covering himself inside their unconditional love as he once more cried himself to sleep.

Christmas:

After breakfast, the older brothers excitedly rushed to the Christmas tree. Jimmy quietly followed, staying out of way of the gruesome twosome as they attacked the pile of presents. Even the parents thought the scene looked like a shark feeding frenzy with an occasional wrapped gift popping from the melee in Jimmy’s direction. Whenever that happened Jimmy would gingerly reach for the gift and slowly drag it off to one side so as not to attract the attraction of the savage duo. Once safely out of their field of fire, Jimmy neatly stacked his gifts. Opening the gifts was not a high priority for the young lad since he seldom got what he asked for. It was the sad truth that any gifts he received were usually things he didn’t care for like trucks, cars, cap guns and sporting gear.

When the melee ended, half of the livingroom was filled with empty boxes, shredded wrapping paper and crushed bows as the twins were excitedly checking out their gifts. It was only then that Jimmy gingerly began opening his gifts. Unlike his brothers, he carefully removed the bow, then the ribbon, keeping both intact. Then he cautiously slid a finger under the tape holding the wrapping paper in place so he could remove the paper without damage.

When Ron saw how daintily his youngest son was opening his gifts, he lost it. “Christ, Jimmy, you open presents like a damn girl! Be a man, rip the paper off!”

“But I want to save the paper,” Jimmy petulantly whined. “It’s pretty.”

“Pretty? Did you really just say pretty? Either you rip the paper off like a normal boy or you don’t get the presents,” Ron scowled.

Jimmy hesitated a moment, then looked at the one gift he’d opened. It was a truck, not a doll like he’d been hoping to receive. Knowing how his parents were always pushing him to ‘man up’, he doubted any of the things he’d ask Santa to bring were in the remaining gifts. With stubborn determination, Jimmy stood, picking up the paper, ribbon and bow from the gift he’d opened. “Den take ‘em to da Salbation Army to gib to kids dat needs presents.” With that he took the paper, ribbon and bow as he headed towards his bedroom.

Ron and Karen were so stunned they watched Jimmy defiantly leave.

“Hey, that’s a neat truck,” Tommy exclaimed as he reached over to pick up the abandoned truck. “Since Jimmy doesn’t want his stuff, can Timmy and me have it?”

When Ron and Karen didn’t object, the twins ripped into the remaining gifts, shredding the wrappings and ribbons to pieces.

In his bedroom, Jimmy carefully rubbed the salvaged wrapping paper to eliminate the creases. Then he carefully rolled it into a tube, wrapped the ribbon around the tube, then tucked the bow into an open end. With a smile he held up his magic wand. Then he began dancing around the room to imaginary music as he touched each and every boyish object ‘magically’ turning it into it’s girlish equivalent. After half an hour he grew tired of his pretend game. Crawling into bed he positioned his favorite stuffed animals around him in a defensive perimeter. They guarded him from the nasty boy ideas his parents and brothers pushed on him.

Ron and Karen retreated to the kitchen. Over cups of coffee they questioned each other about how to handle Jimmy. The older he became the more stubborn he grew. Not only had he never gotten into the roughhousing of his brothers, he also rejected sports. Youth soccer had been a disaster. While he’d seemed to enjoy running around the field and kicking the ball, whenever anyone tried to block him, he’d meekly give up possession. No amount of coaching, urging, and even discipline changed his attitude. Stubbornly he insisted on avoiding any and all confrontations that might possibly lead to physical contact. Even though they didn’t want to admit it, they knew in their hearts Jimmy was a sissy. However, neither accepted that. They would not raise a sissy! But what really puzzled them was that despite his overt sissy behavior Jimmy firmly stood his ground as he’d just done, defying the admonition to rip open the gifts by calmly walking away from yet another confrontation. They were nearing their wit’s ends as they tried to force the stubborn child to be a boy like his brothers.

Birthday Boy:

Jimmy’s fifth birthday was an embarrassment for the family. The extended family used opportunities such as holidays and birthdays to get together. This birthday started out no different than any others. When the cake was presented with lit candles, Jimmy closed his eyes tightly to make his birthday wish. Quite naturally he wished he could be a girl. After taking a deep breath, he leaned over the cake to carefully but forcefully blow out the candles. He recalled the twin’s last birthday when they blew so hard spittle flew all over the cake. Jimmy refused to eat any of their cake which got him in trouble for being so picky and uncooperative.

After enjoying the cake, it was time for the gifts. Jimmy sat on the floor and began to carefully unwrap the first box.

Ron sighed as he watched his youngest. “Jimmy, what have we told you about opening gifts?

“But I don’t wanna open gifts like dat,” Jimmy protested knowing it would do no good.

“Fine, be a damn priss!” Ron snarled. “Tommy, Timmy, help Jimmy open his presents.”

“Pwease no,” Jimmy begged as the gruesome twosome scrambled over each other to get at the gifts. Knowing crying would only make things worse he choked down his tears and revulsion that his brothers were happily shredding the gift wrappings. Once more the toys were all suitable for a rough and tumble boy. The few items of clothes were accepted gracefully but the toys were merely acknowledged before he passed them to his eager brothers.

The result was that in addition to having his parents harping on him about his sissy ways, the rest of the family joined in belittling Jimmy’s lack of boyish verve. Grandpa and Grandma as well as his aunts and uncles lectured him on the perils of being a sissy telling him he was old enough to ‘man up’.

That night he cuddled up with the only friends he knew telling them all his troubles. Tears flowed as he realized his birthday wish to be a girl would not come true. The sad child cried until he fell asleep.

Memorial Day:

Before arriving at the family picnic Jimmy had been firmly ordered not to play with his girl cousins. Upon arriving, he’d been told to go play with his brothers and boy cousins. Tentatively he approached them but their rough and tumble ideas of play held no appeal for Jimmy. Before he could be drafted into their actions, he managed to ghost away from them. The crackling fire in the big fire place drew his attention. The way the flames danced seemed magical.

The old masonry fireplace was twelve feet wide and four feet deep, divided into three equally sized sections. Both side segments had doors on the front for storage of the fireplace accessories with flat slate tops. The center segment was the fire box with a half inch thick iron plate as it’s top. Sitting on the iron plate was a large black steam box, forty inches on each side and two feet high, that held four inches of water below a heavy wire mesh that held thirty clambakes. Reaching onto the tailgate of his grandfather’s pick-up truck parked by the fireplace, he pulled off a small log from the wood piled there and tossed it into the fire. The sparks and cinders that flared from the consumed portion of the logs already burning were quite mesmerizing.

When he was spotted tossing logs into the fire he was scolded for getting too close to the fire and told to go play with the other boys. Jimmy slunk around the truck before crawling under the pick-up so he could continue to watch the fascinating flames without being noticed. The sight of the dancing flames seemed magical and enthralling. All too soon his frustration about being ordered to play with the boys and not to play with the girls overwhelmed him as his spellbound eyes closed in sleep.

By the time the bakes were ready it was mid afternoon. Everyone had worked up an appetite. No one hesitated to drop what they were doing and head to the picnic tables beside the fireplace. It was only after everyone had been served that Karen realized Jimmy was not with them.

“I don’t see Jimmy,” Karen called out. “Has anyone seen him lately?”

Blank looks were exchanged for a moment before grandpa spoke up. “I saw him about an hour ago. He was tossing logs into the fireplace so I told him to go play with the boys.”

“Well he never made it to us,” Timmy spoke up.

In a few seconds nearly everyone was up heading in different directions calling out for Jimmy. Some searched the house, others the garage, even the tool shed. The longer they searched the more worried they became. After ten minutes Grandpa finally opened Old Duke’s pen. The beagle ambled over to the picnic tables looking for treats.

“No Duke, no treats yet, boy,” Grandpa declared. “Duke, find Jimmy. Come on boy, find Jimmy.”

Now old Duke knew who they were looking for and knew exactly where he was. Jimmy was the gentlest of the smaller humans and always managed to get some sort of treat to him whenever he came around. What kind of weird game were these crazy humans playing now? The kid was right in front of them! Duke cocked his head to ask what his caretaker really wanted him to do.

“Come on, Duke, find Jimmy, find Jimmy,” Grandpa repeated.

Duke sighed but wagged his tail. It was always good to get out of his pen even if it was for such a stupid reason. Slowly but with determination he ambled over to the pick-up truck and belly crawled under the tailgate until he reached Jimmy. Seeing the boy was asleep, he began to lick his face.

Jimmy woke up instantly and jerked away from the slobbering sandpapery tongue, banging his head on the exhaust pipe. “Youch,” he called out as the pain fully awakened him.

As soon as Duke began crawling under the truck, several people bent down to peek under it. They all saw Jimmy peacefully sleeping until Duke licked his face. Nearly everyone heard the THUD as his head hit the pipe followed almost instantly by the youch.

Jimmy was made to sit by his mother. Everyone was upset because their clam bakes had grown cold during the search. The cheesecloth bags were tied closed and they were dropped back into the steamer. The mood of the picnic had changed, and it was all Jimmy’s fault. For the rest of the day he was made to sit at the picnic table while everyone else had fun playing games.

Once more Jimmy was repeatedly scolded and belittled for going missing and not playing with the boys. “Damn it, Jimmy, when in the hell are you going to stop being a freaking sissy? I swear I’m just about ready to tan your hide. Maybe if I whip your ass until you can’t sit down for a week you’ll wise the fuck up!”

Upon arriving home Jimmy scurried inside, took a quick bath, and crawled into bed. His stuffed animals comforted him as he cried himself to sleep.

Kindergarten - 1

Jimmy was looking forward to the adventure of going to school. He already knew his ABCs, numbers and colors. Heck, he already understood that letters combined to make words. The words ENTER and EXIT were on the doors of most businesses. The word on those weird red signs at intersections was STOP. Why he’d even figured out the menu board at McDonalds. The name of the food was followed by numbers which were the price.

The first day of kindergarten was a bit scary at first but he quickly realized all the other kids were as anxious about their new adventure as he was. By the end of the day he realized he didn’t care to be around the boys. The girls were much nicer classmates.

As the days progressed, Jimmy ignored the boys in favor of the girls. Three girls in particular became his best friends. The four sat together at a table and did their work quickly and accurately. Naturally, the boys hassled him for being a sissy but Jimmy ignored them.

Things went on in that vein until the first parent teacher conference. Miss Baker explained that Jimmy was an outstanding student, bright, eager to help others, and well behaved. Ron and Karen were embarrassed as the teacher then voiced her concerns that despite her efforts to get him to associate with the boys he stayed with his girl friends.

When they arrived home Ron and Karen scolded the twins for not completing assignments and being disruptive in class. Then they questioned Jimmy about his school friends. Not suspecting a thing, he began to excitedly talk about the girls who were his best friends.

“Damn, I thought we were past this,” Ron huffed. “Jimmy, you have a pecker. That means you are a boy! Boys don’t have girls as friends until they’re in their teens, and then they are girlfriends! You should be hanging with the boys, getting involved in their activities, not acting like a damn sissy hanging with the girls! Well, since you can’t seem to be able to behave like a boy, we’ll help you. From now on you ARE NOT to hang around with girls. Either you start playing with the boys or go it alone. The girls are off limits! DO you understand me?”

“But the boys play too rough and their games are dumb,” Jimmy protested. “I get along with the girls. We like the same things an...”

“ENOUGH!” Ron exploded as he slammed his fist onto the top of the table. “If you hang around with girls I’ll make sure you won’t be able to sit for a week. Christ, you’re five years old! Being a bit sissy when you were a toddler was one thing, but now you’re in school. Once your classmates begin calling you a sissy, it’ll stick with you for the rest of your life! Now man the fuck up! No more being friends with the girls! Do you understand?”

Jimmy was valiantly struggling to hold back his tears. He knew if he opened his mouth he’d start crying, proving to his family he was a sissy. Still, he was too wound up to speak so he meekly nodded his head.

“Tommy, Timmy, I want you to keep an eye on Jimmy to make sure he’s not hanging around the girls,” Ron gruffly added as the twins nodded their heads.

With the scolding over, Jimmy fled to the sanctuary of his bedroom. Once more he gathered his stuffed friends. “You guys know I’m a sissy but I don’t see anything wrong with being one. I don’t care if the guys call me a sissy.” The stuffed animals sympathetically listened quietly as Jimmy poured out his frustration and angst before he cried himself to sleep.

Kindergarten - 2

The next day Jimmy forlornly went to his normal table with tears threatening to spill from his eyes. The girls instantly knew something bad had happened and reached out to comfort him. Their hugs only aggravated his distress and he began sobbing. The teacher came over to see what was going on. It took a few minutes for Jimmy to regain his composure.

“My parents don’t want me hanging out with you anymore,” Jimmy sniffled as he looked at the girls. “They said I’m being a sissy and need to man up. If we don’t stop being friends, I’ll get paddled so hard I won’t be able to sit. I’m supposed to hang and play with the boys but I don’t like the way they act or the dumb games they play. The only choice I have is to keep to myself.”

“I’m so sorry, Jimmy,” the teacher guiltily said knowing she was responsible for his parents cracking down on him. “I won’t tell your parents if you stay friends with the girls.”

“It won’t do any good,” Jimmy sighed. “My older brothers have been told to keep an eye on me to be sure I don’t hang with the girls. Girls, I’m really sorry we can’t be friends anymore and I’ll miss you.”

By that time the girls were crying which set off Jimmy again. Good-bye hugs were exchanged before Jimmy gathered his things and moved to an empty table in the back of the class.

Of course the rest of the class heard and saw all that was going on. The girls were sympathetic while the guys chuckled with sadistic glee at their sissy classmate’s distress. The teacher quickly quashed their gloating.

It was not normal procedure to allow a student to segregate themselves from the rest of their classmates. However, feeling responsible for the dilemma, Miss Baker allowed Jimmy to stay in his self imposed exile. She debated about contacting his parents but feared it would only aggravate the matter.

When recess arrived the boys bolted from the classroom followed a bit more moderately by the girls. Bringing up the rear was the forlorn Jimmy. Once out on the playground, Jimmy looked with disgust as the guys were already becoming rowdy. Looking at the girls broke his heart. With nothing to do he began to run along the perimeter of the playground, lap after lap until the bell rang summoning the kids to return to their classrooms.

In the weeks that followed, little changed. Jimmy sat alone in the back of the classroom and did his lessons with uncommon perfection. Everyone in the room could tell Jimmy was constantly desolate. At recess, he ran and ran and ran... Upon arriving home Jimmy headed to his bedroom to be with his stuffed friends, the only friends that he had. The only time he emerged was for meals after which it was back to the solitude of his room.

As the next parent teacher conference rolled around, Miss Baker was anxious to correct the mistake she’d made in telling Jimmy’s parents that his friends were all girls. Naturally, that was the same topic Ron and Karen wanted to discuss. Miss Baker tried to explain that Jimmy needed friends to which Ron promptly clarified to ‘boy friends’. Nothing was settled and the three adults parted with the dilemma unsolved. Miss Baker did decide to get the school guidance counselor involved but she had no luck in reaching into Jimmy’s sad little world.

Naturally the morose mood of the boy was noticed by his family. Karen and Ron spoke about the situation but could not figure out what was going on with Jimmy. Finally one day after supper they held a family meeting.

Ron looked at his youngest and brusquely asked, “Jimmy, what’s eating at you?”

With a look of desolation Jimmy simply stood silently looking at his father. No matter what he did or said he’d once more be yelled at or even spanked.

A bit unnerved by the unflinching gaze, Ron spoke to the twins about their brother. “Is Jimmy playing with the other boys at recess?”

“No,” they simply replied.

“Well he better not be hanging out with girls,” Ron huffed as he glared at Jimmy who was still looking directly at him. “I told you to tell me if he was still with the girls!”

“But he doesn’t hang with the girls,” the twins defensively replied not wanting to get in trouble.

Ron was puzzled. “Then who in the hell does he play with during recess?”

“No one,” the twins replied growing anxious they were going to be somehow blamed for Jimmy’s actions.

Ron was clearly upset as he asked, “Jimmy, what in the freaking world do you do at recess?”

With absolutely no show of emotion Jimmy looked directly in Ron’s eyes as he gave his simple answer... “Run.”

“Good lord,” Ron placed his face in his hands in utter frustration. “First he’s a damn sissy, now he’s freaking Forrest Gump!”

During the next few weeks whenever Ron or Karen tried to discuss the issue with Jimmy, he‘d just silently glare at them refusing to speak. All the invective they directed at him silently rolled off his back until they became so frustrated they would send him to his bedroom.

Jimmy didn’t mind the solitude of his bedroom. In fact, it was his sanctuary where he found security and love in his stuffed animals.

Kindergarten - 3

It became a nightly occurrence as Ron and Karen ripped into Jimmy for his stubbornness. The morose boy stood silently still, allowing their invectiveness to roll over him like surf on a beach. The frustrated parents would finally send the silent boy to his room. It was only in the spring they realized Jimmy barely spoke to Karen or the twins and the last word he spoke to Ron was RUN a few months back.

“What the hell are we going to do with Jimmy?” Ron asked as he tried to control his anger.

“Maybe we could ease up and let him be friends with the girls,” Karen suggested. The glare she received from Ron squelched that line of thought.

“One thing is for sure,” Ron sighed. “We’ve got to get him out of his bedroom.”

The next day when they arrived home from school, the twins changed into old clothes and headed out to play. Karen caught Jimmy before he could seclude himself. “Your father and I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to stay cooped up in your bedroom every night. Go change into some old clothes and go outside to play until it’s time for supper.”

Jimmy merely nodded his head and trudged upstairs to his bedroom where he changed into old clothes before heading outside. Once clear of the back door, Jimmy started running along the property line... and running... and running.

Two hours later Ron arrived home. “Did Jimmy give you any problems about going outside?”

“I wish he had,” Karen sighed as she pointed out the kitchen window. “He’s been running laps around the yard non-stop for two hours.”

Ron looked out to see Jimmy running at a good clip. The boy’s face looked serene and worry-free, quite a difference form his normal forlorn expression. “Non-stop?” Ron queried. “Not even to get a drink?”

“Non-stop, no drinks, no breaks, just running,” Karen replied. “His pace hasn’t slowed either.”

“Now that’s impossible,” Ron huffed.

“I always assumed so, but Jimmy’s doing it,” Karen shook her head. “Call the boys in to wash up for supper.”

Ron stepped onto the back deck and let out a bellow. The twin’s faint answering yells came from the woods behind their house. Ron looked at Jimmy’s face when he ran by without stopping. His eyes were not focused on anything, just blindly staring away. It wasn’t an expression of serenity, it was a vacant look. Three more times Ron yelled as Jimmy zipped past without a glimmer of recognition from the zoned out boy. The grubby twins emerged from the trees into the yard, almost being run over by Jimmy. Once on the deck they explained the expression on Jimmy’s face was the same one he had when he ran at recess. It was only the sound of the bell that would snap him out of his zone. Heading into the garage Ron dug out an old cowbell and a small hammer. Karen followed him outside to the deck. As Jimmy next approached the deck, Ron rapidly and repeatedly firmly tapped the bell. The sound worked, snapping Jimmy from wherever he’d gone.

Snapped from his runner’s zone, Jimmy saw his parents and brothers looking at him from the back deck. Realizing it must be supper time, he nonchalantly stopped. Everyone noticed that after two and a quarter hours of running, all at a good clip, Jimmy was not even breathing hard. Without a word he headed onto the deck and right past his bewildered family to wash up for supper.

During the meal Ron and Karen attempted to question the once more morose boy to find out why he became so centered while running that he blocked out everything else. The only response they received was a shrug of the his shoulders. The parents were becoming increasingly concerned about Jimmy’s unusual actions and why he simply didn’t make friends with the boys in his class.

T-Ball

In the spring Timmy and Tommy played little league baseball. Ron signed Jimmy up for T-ball and took him to the practice. Jimmy went to where the coach was speaking to the kids but he never joined the group. Instead, he remained a few feet away. When the coach noticed the Jimmy’s recalcitrance he attempted to draw him into the group.

Jimmy steadfastly refused to physically join the others prompting the boys who were his classmates to mock Jimmy. “He’s just a sissy.” “He’d rather play with girls than us but he’s not allowed to play with them.” “He just stays alone all recess.” “He’s a freak.”

Naturally Ron heard the derisive comments which added to his frustration. The more Ron pushed Jimmy to join the other boys, the more Jimmy shut down emotionally. When he was made to stand at the T-ball stand, Jimmy reluctantly took the bat but let the tip drop to the ground as he refused to swing the bat. Frustrated, Ron quickly escalated from speaking to Jimmy to yelling at the mute boy to cursing and threatening physical harm. As for Jimmy, his head hung so his chin was on his chest and his body was slumped as if in total defeat. Finally, totally pissed off, Ron roughly grabbed Jimmy by the scruff of his shirt and dragged him to his truck.

No amount of scolding or belittlement seemed to effect Jimmy. As the vitriol thrown his way increased, he simply retreated deeper into himself. Ron and Karen had no idea how to get through to the stubborn boy. They couldn’t revoke any privileges since Jimmy did not watch TV, nor did he play video games. He had no toys to be taken away since for the last two years he gave every toy he’d received to his brothers. He was too young to read books. Sending him to his bedroom was useless because that was where he spent most of his time. The room was small, painted in eggshell, no posters or other decorations on the bare walls, only ten by ten feet with barely enough room for a bed, dresser and a night stand, yet it was a sanctuary for the boy. They had tried making him stay with them, but he never objected or even pouted, heck he never made a sound. He merely stood wherever they told him without moving. Having Jimmy torpid in the same room with them worked on their nerves until they couldn’t stand his presence. What really ate at them was his utter silence.

The determined boy followed the directions he was given in school and at home. He did his chores without being reminded. He never had to be told to wash up before meals, to bath every night or to brush his teeth. No one could find fault with his actions as they were always respectful and polite. Yet by his silence it was obvious he was profoundly depressed and troubled.

July Fourth

The family gathered for a raucous celebration. The only down side was Jimmy’s morose silence. The boy sat quietly behind the fireplace with his back against the chimney. No amount of urging to join in the games and festivities had any effect. However, when grandma needed another sauce pan to melt the butter for the clam bakes, she asked Jimmy to get one from the kitchen. Jimmy simply stood, headed to the kitchen to retrieve the requested pan, promptly returned to the fireplace to give it to grandma before he resumed his position behind the fireplace. Several times during the food prep the older woman sent Jimmy for small items, many she didn’t really need, just to test the recalcitrant boy. Each time, without hesitation or protest, he accomplished the requested deed with alacrity before resuming his isolated solemn outpost. Despite his prompt responses to her requests, he steadfastly refused to speak.

When the meal was ready, grandma called her family together for the feast. The games stopped as everyone hurried for the feast. Grandpa served up the clam bakes as everyone filed past the steaming cooking tank. On a table beside the fireplace bowls of potato salad, macaroni salad, pickles, olives, tomatoes, lettuce and hotdogs. When the last person was served, he took his own to the picnic tables. Grandma noticed Jimmy had not joined them. With a heavy sigh she spoke to grandpa before he sat. Shaking his head he turned to face the fireplace.

“Jimmy, come to the tables,” he called out.

Everyone fell silent. Most had not even realized Jimmy was present. All wondered what was wrong with the boy. Since the chewing out he’d gotten two Thanksgivings ago he’d been a quiet, somber enigma. Ron and Karen were once more embarrassed by their headstrong silent son.

Jimmy silently emerged from behind the fireplace and walked to the tables as his entire family stared at him.

Grandma smiled at him and asked, “Do you want a bake?”

Jimmy stood before her and shook his head.

“Well, get a plate and gather what you want from the table,” she told him as she pointed to the food laden table beside the fireplace.

Jimmy went to the table and took just enough to keep his family from getting more upset than they already were. When he turned back to the tables he saw grandma beckoning him to sit beside her. Mutely he did so. Only when he was seated did the jovial mood of the others resume. When the meal was done, Jimmy silently resumed his post behind the fireplace. He stayed there until Timmy rousted him to head home after the family fireworks were over.

Grandma and Grandpa were able to spend a few moments with Ron and Karen before the fireworks to discuss Jimmy. The parents agreed Jimmy followed instructions but stubbornly refused to speak or otherwise participate with the family. The grandparents could offer no assistance to the frustrated parents.

First Grade

When Jimmy returned to school for first grade he brought his desolate demeanor and muteness with him, refusing to speak to anyone. That’s not to say he didn’t respond to others. His new teacher tried all she knew to get him to speak but he remained silent. Jimmy did all classroom assignments perfectly and did shake or nod his head in response to queries. Mrs. Lloyd, the guidance counselor tried to get the sad little boy to open up but he remained stoically silent and emotionally sterile.

By the time two weeks passed, everyone in the school knew the freaky crazy running boy from the previous year who never made a sound or smiled had returned. Three fifth graders, already well on their way to becoming hoodlums, decided to make the wacko speak. At recess the tried to stop Jimmy but he simply jinked about them and continued without really giving them a glance. That angered the trio. The next circuit, they spread out ready to snag the boy as he ran by. This too failed as Jimmy once more evaded them. Furious, they lined up by the path Jimmy ran. This time when he reached them they tackled him into the fence.

“Alright you little faggot, you’re going to talk or we’ll beat the shit out of you,” the leader sneered.

Jimmy merely looked at the bully with a expression of utter boredom. That angered the budding felon, so he hauled off and drove a fist into Jimmy’s gut. Jimmy didn’t even give the creep the satisfaction of a gasp or change of expression even though he doubled over. Within moments all three ten year olds were beating away on the silent 6 year old. When Jimmy finally collapsed to the ground, the bullies were so far into a crazed bloodlust they began kicking him.

Someone saw what was going on and ran to the playground monitor to report the beating. At the same time, Timmy and Tommy saw the beat-down. Even though they were frustrated and upset with Jimmy, the tough fourth grade duo charged the older and bigger threesome. Timmy and Tommy hit them like a speeding locomotive hitting a VW bug. All three boys were smashed to the ground in a nasty tackle, thus stopping the ruthless attack on their brother. The twins proceeded to climb atop the heaped threesome and pound their heads into the blacktop. By that time the playground monitor saw the bloody carnage, Jimmy was lying silently and unmoving on the ground bleeding from his face. The three fifth grade boys were bruised and bloodied by Timmy and Tommy as they exacted revenge. Finally seeing the carnage, she immediately blew her shrill whistle before calling for assistance using the code for major injury. Upon hearing the whistle, Timmy and Tommy stopped their counterattack on the by then bloodied older boys. They did not get off the aggressors until the principal and school nurse arrived on the scene.

The school nurse immediately began triage while the principal called for EMTs, an ambulance and the police. The three culprits sat against the fence clearly surprised at what they had done to Jimmy and startled by how badly they’d suffered from Timmy and Tommy’s rescue. All three boys were splattered with Jimmy’s blood.

The investigation exonerated Timmy and Tommy since they were defending their brother and had ceased the attack upon hearing the whistle. The three boys were arrested at the hospital after their wounds had been treated and placed into juvenile detention. Jimmy was rushed to the hospital where he spent the next five days in a coma. When he finally awoke, he remained silent. Again he followed directions but never uttered a sound. He’d suffered a severe concussion, his nose and right cheekbone were broken and his jaw had a hairline fracture. Four ribs were broken as was his left forearm. There had been some internal bleeding but fortunately it stopped on it’s own.

The three boys were confused by what had happened. They hadn’t intended to beat the little kid almost to death, but his silence and sad accepting countenance had pushed them into losing control. At their hearing the three boys admitted to their actions and to the fact they didn’t know how it escalated from a simple act of bullying to a beat down. They were genuinely shook up by the event. Ron and Karen knew exactly how the three boys felt and after hearing their remorse for their vicious assault they asked the judge for leniency. The judge put the boys on probation. The school, however, expelled the trio.

Throughout his two week stay in the hospital Jimmy remained silent. Several psychiatrists tried to make headway with the silent morose boy but got no where. They would have gotten more satisfaction talking to the wall. What baffled everyone was that Jimmy followed instructions and directions with hesitation or defiance. The sad somber expression on his face spoke volumes, but no one knew how to translate what they saw. Jimmy was absolutely frustrating to those who sought to help him.

Ron and Karen spoke to the shrinks explaining their frustrations with dealing with the boy. The fact Jimmy wanted to be friends with the girls and not the boys seemed to be at the base of the situation. Only one of the five psychiatrists objected when Ron and Karen explained their efforts to force Jimmy to ‘man up’ and stop being such a sissy. The others totally disregarded her efforts to help Jimmy and she was quickly excluded from his treatment.

The result was that when Jimmy was discharged from the hospital, Ron and Karen, supported by four doctors, decided to up the ante in forcing Jimmy to stop being a sissy. The single voice of the doctor who objected to the consensus was left out of the treatment.

Homecoming

Jimmy headed for his bedroom as soon as he arrived home. The first thing he did was smother himself with the friends he’d missed during his stay in the hospital.

In the days that followed the parents repeatedly tried to get Jimmy to speak to them without success. Three weeks after he was released from the hospital, things came to a head. Just as he did each day after school, Jimmy ran laps around the yard until called for supper. Again as before all during supper Ron and Karen tried their best to get Jimmy to speak. By the time the meal ended, both parents were angry and frustrated with Jimmy’s continued obstinate silence. When everyone was finished eating Ron grabbed Jimmy to prevent him from heading to his bedroom sanctuary.

“Now, young man, we are going to get to the bottom of this bullshit you’ve been shoveling! You will stand here until you TELL us why the hell you won’t talk to us and why you won’t make friends with the boys in your class,” Ron snarled. “Well, what do you have to say for yourself?”

Jimmy stood silent and stoic as he faced his parents. The silence stretched on for five minutes with Ron and Karen getting angrier by the second. Finally Ron reached out and grabbed Jimmy by the shoulders and began to shake him.

“Talk, you little bastard,” Ron raged as Jimmy’s head flopped back and forth from the violence of the shaking before he shoved the silent boy away in anger.

Jimmy flew backwards when he was released, somehow managing to stay on his feet. After shaking his head side to side to rearrange his discombobulated equilibrium, he stood and looked sadly at his parents. “Talking does no good,” he finally sighed in hopelessness. “You’ve asked many times and I told you many times but you don’t want to hear my answers. But I’ll give it another try. I do not like playing with boys. The stuff they do and talk about I think is stupid and has no interest for me. I have more in common with girls and I like to play with girls. You ordered me not to hang with girls and I’ve obeyed. You said I should play with the boys or go it alone. I decided to go it alone.”

“Why you impertinent little shit,” Ron exploded. “Going it alone was not what we wanted and you damn well knew it. Starting tomorrow, you WILL start playing with the boys! Do you understand?”

“I understand but I won’t do it,” Jimmy defiantly answered. “If I can’t play with the girls I won’t play with anyone.”

Tommy and Timmy watched the unfolding confrontation, getting excited by the tongue lashing Jimmy was receiving. It was like watching a train wreck. You didn’t want to see the carnage yet you can’t help watching.

Finally Ron lost it. Reaching out he forcibly grabbed Jimmy by an arm and wrenched the unresisting boy to him, pulling him down on his lap. Before Jimmy was completely in place the other hand began laying down a savage barrage of swats. The blows were fast and hard. Jimmy could not help but kick and cry which only further infuriated Ron. The slaps rained so fast and furious Tommy and Timmy cringed in sympathy for their stubborn little brother until they could no longer watch. (Much like Herod did while watching Jesus receiving the 39 lashes in Jesus Christ Superstar - 3 minutes into the clip - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0mohcOgaXKA .)

Jimmy was crying so hard that with the pain he couldn’t catch his breath. Thankfully he finally passed out going limp on Ron’s lap. Ron and Karen both realized Jimmy had fainted. Ron tried to pick the boy off his lap but the hand he’d been using was tender, sore and swelling, thus unable to accomplish the task. Karen assisted Ron in lying the unconscious boy on the floor. After a quick check Karen relaxed a bit seeing that Jimmy was breathing normally. Ron sat on the chair flexing his sore hand trying to restore circulation while watching Karen’s ministrations. Angry with himself that he’d lost control and embarrassed about beating the stubborn boy into unconsciousness, Ron grabbed a beer from the refrigerator and stomped outside to the deck to cool off. The fact he had to struggle to open the beer only added to his frustration.

Jimmy didn’t wake up from his faint. Fatigue from his running combined with the crying and abuse of the spanking allowed him to move from faint to sleep. After finishing his beer Ron silently carried the boy up to his room before returning to the kitchen to fill a bowl with ice and water to submerge his swollen and distended hand.

Karen undressed Jimmy and winced when she saw his backside. It was bright red and swollen. The flesh was intact but already turning black and blue. She felt guilty for allowing the spanking to turn into a beating. But she had to admit she was as angry as Ron about Jimmy’s defiant obstinance. After laying him on his tummy, she headed down to the kitchen for ice to place in a towel on Jimmy’s sore butt. Seeing Ron with his hand in a bowl of ice she scowled. “I hope you’re happy! His butt is so sore I’ll have to keep him home from school tomorrow!”

Wisely Ron said nothing.

When she opened the freezer she saw the ice bin was empty. Turning to Ron she spread the towel on the table and scooped ice out of the bowl to use on Jimmy. Once back in Jimmy’s bedroom she laid the ice pack on his butt hoping it would stop the angry mottled swelling.

Jimmy woke to throbbing pain in his butt. Memories of the savage spanking made him begin to sniffle. Even though it was a pain to move, he reached out for his ever faithful and understanding stuffed friends.

Jimmy stayed home the next day, refusing to leave his sanctuary and the comradery and commiseration of his friends. Since it was a Friday, he had the weekend to recover. Once more he refused to speak to anyone nor did he leave his room except to go potty.

Ron and Karen were so upset with themselves they allowed Jimmy to stay in his room to sulk in solitude. Karen brought simple meals for him to eat but no matter what she said he once more refused to speak. Nothing changed during the following week. Jimmy, now even more dour than in the past, sought refuge in his Spartan bedroom every day continuing to refuse to come out even to eat. Karen continued to bring him food.

Tragedy

Sunday night after supper, ten days since the spanking, Ron and Karen decided to once more see if they could get Jimmy to talk. Together they went up to his bedroom. When they stopped by his closed door to gather their strength they were stunned to hear Jimmy freely speaking!

Opening the door they caught the boy red handed (or should that be mouthed?) Cuddling his stuffed animals while talking to them. As soon as Jimmy saw his parents he clamped his mouth shut.

“Damn,” Ron gasped. “What a God-damned sissy!” With that he turned and stalked away.

Karen was just as shocked as Ron. Why would Jimmy talk to his stuffed animals and not them?

Ron returned carrying a trash can, heading to the bed. “So this is what you’ve been doing? All these fucking months of silence while you talk your sissy ass off to these freaking stuffed toys. You won’t say a fucking word to us or anyone else! Well, no more! I’m going to do something I should have done months ago!”

With that he began grabbing the animals and stuffing them in the trash can. Jimmy tried to fight him off but was backhanded off the bed. By the time he regained his feet all his friends were in the trash can. Frantic, he sprung on Ron’s back driving him into the door frame with a heavy THUD.

Ron spun around and grabbed the struggling boy by the front of his shirt lifting him off the ground. “You little freak,” he roared. “You’re going to watch while I burn your furry little friends!”

Jimmy struggled to get free but was unable to do so as Ron tucked him under one arm while picking up the trash can with the other. The more Jimmy struggled, the harder Ron squeezed. The pain from Jimmy’s nearly healed ribs made him cry and stop struggling.

The angry outburst drew Timmy and Tommy. The twins scurried in front of their dad as he stumped down the steps and headed out to the deck. Karen followed agreeing that to break Jimmy from his embrace of sissyhood they had to destroy his precious stuffed animals while he watched.

Out on the deck Ron handed Jimmy off to the twins with gruff orders to hold him still. Then he opened the large propane grill, lowered the racks to their lowest level, lit the burners and turned them up to full flame. With the flames licking through the grating, he upended the trash can, spilling the stuffed animals into the fire. Immediately they burst into flame.

Jimmy was frantic as he struggled to break free. “NO! You’re KILLING THEM! NO!” he screamed.

Ron just sneered at the struggling boy. “Well, it seems you can talk after all! Karen, go inside and get some marshmallows. It’d be a shame to waste such a good fire!”

“NO,” hoarsely screamed Jimmy as he watched his mother head inside to get the marshmallows. Looking back at his friends he could see they were fiercely burning with flames shooting four feet high above their make-shift pyre. In desperation he recalled something he’d seen on TV. First he squatted down as far as he could pulling his brothers slightly forward. Then he sprang back up with all his might forcing them to bend awkwardly off balance as they now held him off the ground. As they regained their equilibrium, Jimmy bent his knees. When they sought to put him back on his feet he struck, harshly driving his feet into Timmy’s left and Tommy’s right instep with enough force to break bones.

Naturally the twins screamed with pain, releasing their grip on Jimmy as they fell backward. Jimmy sprang forward leaping onto the flaming grill in a vain attempt to save his friends. Ron was caught totally off guard and was unable to intercept Jimmy or stabilize the flaming grill. Jimmy fearlessly leapt into the flames, grabbing at his flaming friends even as his momentum caused him to slam into the grill’s open lid. Off balance, the grill tipped back crashing onto the deck scattering flaming stuffed animals in all directions.

Ron’s attempt to keep the grill from tipping failed miserably. Off balance by his sudden fruitless effort he fell onto the lower frame of the downed grill as Jimmy and the grill went over. Ron’s head made solid contact with the propane tank nearly knocking him out. He landed on a wheel, snapping it off and impaling himself on the decorative trim of the base. Inside the kitchen Karen heard the noise and turned in time to see the grill topple. Seeing what was happening she called 911 but the damage had been done.

Timmy and Tommy fearfully and painfully crawled off the flaming stuffed animal covered deck to safety. Since quite a bit of the material from which the fur is made is oil based synthetic plastics, as the stuffed animals burned they also melted. Some of the dripping flaming plastic ran through the spaces between the deck boards, instantly igniting the dried leaves that had accumulated underneath the deck. The dry wood of the deck easily caught fire as did the vinyl siding of the house, quickly adding to the growing conflagration.

Jimmy was on fire. His shirt and jeans were burning. The cast on his arm was being scorched. His hair was quickly singed. Despite the pain, he valiantly attempted to save his friends.

The rapidly spreading flames kept Karen from getting out of the sliding glass back doors. Trapped in the kitchen all she could do was scream in horror to the 911 operator that fire was everywhere and her son was on fire.

As Ron began to regain the ability to think, he saw the flames from the burning debris under the porch licking up between the deck boards. Then he saw Jimmy, futilely ignoring his burning clothes as he still tried to save his flaming stuffed animals. The sight of his son ignoring the flames burning his body made Ron realize two things. Jimmy cared a hell of a lot more for his stuffed animals than they had realized and that his harsh actions had created the fiasco. Despite the pain of being impaled, he painfully lifted himself off the jagged metal. Reaching down to his wound his hands were quickly covered in blood. Instead of trying to staunch the blood flow, he used it to dampen his hands before grabbing Jimmy by a flaming flailing foot to drag him off the porch into the lawn. Recoating his hands with his blood he placed them on Jimmy’s face to extinguish the bits of burning plastic clinging to his flesh.

By then a neighbor who had been watching the unfolding drama responded by dragging his garden hose to the fence and spraying water onto the flaming boy. The neighbor’s wife had also called 911 and a bit more coherently reported the fiasco.

By the time the flames on Jimmy were extinguished, Ron was barely conscious. All he could do was lie on the ground beside his unconscious son and press against his wound to staunch the loss of blood.

By that time the entire back of the house was in flames. Other neighbors rushed to the scene to help. Timmy and Tommy were pulled to the back of the yard by two neighborhood teenagers. Two men dragged Ron away and took over applying pressure to the wound. Another neighbor picked up Jimmy and gingerly carried the crispy boy to safety.

The fire company arrived and managed to save the house. Although the back was severely burned and the windows had cracked, the flames never breached the walls. Paramedics treated Ron and Jimmy, airlifting both to a trauma center. Timmy and Tommy were taken by ambulance to the local emergency center. Karen, totally distraught and bewildered, managed to call Ron’s parents and her parents before losing it.

The stunned grandparents rushed to the home calling their other children to tell them of the disaster. Ron’s parents drove to the trauma center to keep an eye on Ron and Jimmy. Karen’s parents took her to the emergency center to check on Timmy and Tommy as well as to get treatment for Karen’s shock. The brothers and sisters secured the damaged house, using tarps to cover the burned rear wall. One set stayed to keep the house secure while others headed to the hospitals.

Timmy, Tommy, and Karen were treated and released. While Karen wanted to go to Ron and Jimmy, her parents refused to allow it. Karen was nearly sedated into unconsciousness. When they arrived at the damaged home, the grandparents relieved their adult children who had stayed.
Karen and the boys were put to bed.

Ron underwent surgery to repair his wounds. They had to give him four pints of blood to make up for what he’d lost. Fortunately, the blood with which he’d covered his hands had kept him from severely burning himself. The burns on his hands were mostly first degree with a few spots of second degree.

Jimmy was far worse. The boy suffered first and second degree burns on his face with the spots where the molten plastic had burned a bit more severe. His upper arms, torso, abdomen and upper legs had been somewhat protected by his clothes suffering a mixture of light and heavy first and second degree burns. His hands and forearms were the worst suffering heavy second degree burns. In addition, there was some minor smoke inhalation and heat damage to his respiratory system. The trauma center was associated with a regional burn center so as soon as Jimmy was stabilized, he was moved into the burn unit. The doctors felt his chances of surviving were good, but only time would tell. They wisely kept the boy in an induced coma.

Ron was released from the hospital after two weeks. It would take another six weeks until he
could return to work. Jimmy was kept sedated for a month. Their homeowners paid for the home repairs.

Confrontation

As Jimmy slowly awoke, he became aware of the beeping of machines. Then he tried to move only to discover he was heavily bandaged. Memories of trying to save his burning friends returned as did memories of the physical pain of being on fire. Yet the pain of the loss of his friends was worse. Finally he opened his eyes, blinking several times to clear away the fog. Looking around he saw his anxious parents looking expectantly at him as well as a doctor and nurse. The nurse offered him a cup of water with a bendy straw to quench his thirst. The doctor began to check him, speaking softly to the somber lad who glared daggers at his parents. The doctor touched and probed, asking Jimmy to move this or that and if there was any pain. Jimmy remained silent even though the doctor and nurse knew the movements had to be painful. The recalcitrant lad nodded or shook his head in response to their queries. The raw hatred they saw in the silent boy’s eyes made them glad they were not the objects of his fury.

The doctor, a burn specialist, decided it would be best under the circumstances to explain the extent of Jimmy’s injuries. When Jimmy transferred his gaze from his parents to the doctor, the hatred melted from the still intense eyes. Understanding he had the boy’s attention, the doctor began to explain the seriousness of his burns. Jimmy nodded his comprehension whenever the doctor asked if he understood what he was explaining.

Jimmy was surprised he’d been kept unconscious for a month, but even more so when he learned it would be, at best, another two weeks before he could be released from the hospital. The prognosis was that while he’d eventually be able to resume normal physical activities, the unknown would be whether or not scaring developed.

The doctor wasn’t sure if the silent boy understood the implications of his injuries even though he had indicated his comprehension. However, the boy did seem remarkably aware of his surroundings so comprehension of his physical status was a possibility. There was one thing he was sure about, the worried parents had seriously abused the boy. While he had no proof, the hatred in the boys’ eyes when he looked at his parents was bone chilling.

The doctor warily stepped back allowing Karen and Ron to move to the bed. Both began apologizing even though they could see the hatred once more emanating from Jimmy’s eyes. The machines monitoring Jimmy registered a distinct and serious raise in blood pressure and heart rate. He was almost ready to step in to pull the parents away when he saw Jimmy’s eyes soften.

Jimmy’s angry glare at his father faded to one of tired acquiescence. With his lips closed he worked his jaw for a few moments before opening his lips as if wanting to speak but lacking the breath to do so.

Ron’s hopes surged as he gently asked, “Are you trying to tell me something?”

Jimmy nodded his head.

Keeping his eyes on Jimmy’s lips, Ron leaned in to just a few inches of his son’s face hoping to hear the words his son wanted to say. “Say it, Jimmy, it’s okay to tell me.”

Jimmy worked his closed jaw for a few seconds then drew in a deep breath through his nose and raised his head to lean forward.

Karen held her breath hoping Jimmy was about to speak. Ron’s eyes lit up with similar hope.

Suddenly Jimmy spewed a mouth full of spit with remarkable force. The boy’s aim was true, hitting his unsuspecting father on the bridge of his nose right between the eyes. The spittle splattered across Ron’s face.

Ron jerked back reaching up to wipe the slimy saliva from his eyes and face. “Motherfucker! You demented fucking little bastard! I tried to stop you from tipping over the grill but you were too hyped up. I fell on the grill after you knocked it over, breaking the frame and impaling myself on the damn thing. The whole deck and back of the house went up in flames! But despite being seriously hurt, I pulled you from the fire! I saved your God damned life and this is how you say thanks?”

Jimmy had flopped back on the bed with a smile of impudent satisfaction covering his still healing face. The glare from his eyes was one of sadistic glee that slowly morphed into absolute anger. “You want me to talk? I’ll talk! None of it would have happened if you hadn’t been burning my friends to death! I wish I would have died with them, along with the both of you! I’m only sorry the whole house didn’t burn down! I hate you both! You’re nothing but killers! You’ve always hated me! Nothing I ever do is good enough for you! Instead of praise for keeping my room clean you yelled at me for being a sissy! I liked playing with Brandi and Susan but you forbid us to play together! At school you made me stay away from my friends because they were girls! You want me to be a loud mouthed slob like Timmy and Tommy! Well, I’m not like them! I’m not like any boy because I HATE being a boy even more than I hate you! Didn’t you ever wonder WHY I don’t like playing with boys and boy toys? NO! You just thought I was being a sissy faggot! I might be a sissy but I don’t even know what a faggot is! Every night when I went to bed I’d pray God would answer my prayers and turn me into a girl! But he must hate me too because he just ignores me! God... why didn’t you just let me die?” With that Jimmy squeezed his eyes closed in an unsuccessful attempt to stop the tears that always earned him a scolding. By then the alarms on the monitoring equipment were beginning to sound.

Ron and Karen were dumbfounded. The doctor brusquely ordered them to leave the room as he and the nurse tried to comfort Jimmy. They quickly realized he was inconsolable and administered a sedative.

In the hall outside the room, Ron and Karen hugged each other as they began to cry. They were just beginning to realize and understand just how wrong they had been in their harsh efforts to make the boy ‘man up’. They were aware that transsexuals existed but like all too many people thought it was something the effected person was too lazy or weak to overcome. They’d never suspected it could be a real condition, since to their knowledge, it only occurred in teens and adults. But for a child to feel that way... especially THEIR child... who had grown up surrounded by masculinity and unequivocally encouraged to be masculine... transsexualism just couldn’t happen... unless it WAS a genuine condition!

As they thought back on all the things Jimmy had done that caused them to come down on him, their guilt ballooned. Nearly every action and behavior Jimmy had done WAS undeniably girlish! Yet they had harshly punished him for behavior that was natural to him!!! or was it her? GOD, what had they done to their child? Burned and possibly physically scarred for life... there was now no doubt in their minds they had already emotionally scarred him... her! Their world had suddenly been turned upside down and inside out.

The doctor emerged from the room full of anger towards the abusive parents. When he saw their tears and remorse he reconsidered his desire to tell them off. Deciding to give them a last chance to redeem their misguided child-rearing he spoke softly. “We’ve sedated him, but there is a lot more to his recovery than his burns.”

Karen was too broke up to do more than nod. Ron sniffed back his tears. “We... we had no idea... we thought we were doing the right thing trying to make him behave like a boy. Obviously we did the exact WRONG things. God, how could we be so dumb? We have no idea how to even apologize much less make it up to him... or her. Damn, it’s all so confusing!”

“So what he said was true,” the doctor stated as the parents remorsefully nodded their guilt. “You need professional help. I’ll go on record now that I will NOT recommend Jimmy be returned to your custody unless he agrees to do so. That means YOU have got to learn all you can about raising a transgendered child. The hatred he has for you will take a lot to overcome but it is doable. I know a psychiatrist who specializes in youngsters with gender identity issues. I’m going to bring her onboard as a partner in this case. You’ll have to convince us and Jimmy you’ve changed. Admit you were wrong and BEG his forgiveness. I’ll tell you right now, if things don’t change in your family and if you get him back, he’ll be dead before he’s ten, possibly taking you and others with him.”

A very somber Ron and Karen nodded their understanding and thanked the doctor for giving them a chance to change.

“I hope you’re serious about this,” the doctor added. “Mental turmoil like Jimmy is experiencing will slow down the physical healing process. Please come into the office by the nurse’s station. I’ll need you to sign permission slips to allow Dr. Kline access to Jimmy’s medical and school records. The more she knows about Jimmy the easier it will be to build a rapport.”

Ron and Karen willingly signed the permission slips, thanking the doctor for giving them another chance with Jimmy. They added they looked forward to speaking to the specialist.

Mending

Dr. Mary Kline was horrified when the burn specialist contacted her about Jimmy, explaining how the boy was burned as well as his hatred of his gender and parents as well as his wish to have died. To the best of her ability she cleared her schedule to concentrate on the boy. As she read the many reports, Dr. Kline felt her heart go out to the burned boy she had yet to meet. The school records from his teachers, the school nurse and the guidance counselor showed their obvious concern for Jimmy but revealed a total lack of insight as to what caused his issues. The reports from his previous hospital time and four of the five psychiatrists who attempted to treat him there also showed much ineptitude in determining causes. Out of all the professionals who had treated Jimmy prior to his current injury, only one suggested gender issues might be the boy’s underlying cause. That lone voice had been stifled and forced from being involved in his treatment. The final report was the police report of the beating to which Jimmy had been subjected.

After completing her study of the reports, Dr. Kline set up an interview with Ron and Karen. They met the evening of the third day after Jimmy had been brought out of the initial induced coma. The boy had been kept sedated since his outburst. After initial greetings, Dr Kline explained what she’d discovered in the files and that she felt Jimmy might very well be transgendered.

“I’m proud to be a man,” Ron meekly began. “Timmy and Tommy are thriving under the same expectations I had for Jimmy. But a good man must admit when he is wrong. I’m ashamed to say I’ve been wrong about Jimmy. I was simply too ignorant to realize my youngest child was never a son. As a result I seriously abused him. When he spit in my face I was mad as hell. But then the hurt and pain he’d been hiding inside burst out. He hates being a boy so much he wants to be dead! That hit me in the heart and shut down the anger. Only then was I able to see how I hurt him at every turn. Now, I need to help him become the person he is inside, not the person I wanted him to become.”

“I’m just as guilty,” Karen sniffed. “I thought we were doing the right thing by forcing Jimmy to be like his brothers. When Jimmy told us off, at first I was shocked and angry at him. But as I thought about what he’d said, my anger turned from him to myself. I failed him. While they were sedating Jimmy, we waited in the hall and quietly discussed how we failed him. That’s when we signed the forms giving you access to all his records.”

“We’ve spent the last two days researching gender dysphoria in children,” Ron picked up. “The way Jimmy behaved has all the hallmarks of being genuinely transgendered. Virtually every indicator was met while we blindly stomped him down. Please help us get our child back.”

“We’ve told Timmy and Tommy what Jimmy said,” Karen explained. “We told them we were wrong in how we treated him and that if we were able to bring him home it would be as their sister. While it’s obvious they don’t really understand transsexualism, they do understand that Jimmy was different and that WE accept that Jimmy might be a girl in his soul. They trust us enough to accept our judgement. We’ll do whatever we need to do to help Jimmy understand we’re sorry for how we treated him. We just want him back.”

“I need to meet with Jimmy and test him before I can give an official diagnosis,” Dr. Kline spoke up. “But it seems as if you are both now convinced he is a girl. Before you see him you need to get your heads together. If I confirm he is transgender, you must stop referring to Jimmy as a male in any way, shape or form. If she is a girl, she will be your daughter. The fact everyone thought she was a boy was due to a birth defect. The only way you will get your daughter is if you apologize and BEG for her forgiveness. You MUST treat her as a girl in every way, shape, form and thought. You will prove your sincerity by encouraging and supporting her as your daughter. Do you understand?”

Ron and Karen nodded.

“You will not try to see her until I’ve completed my initial examinations,” Dr. Kline explained. “Your first meeting with her will be with me present. Do you accept my authority?”

Again Ron and Karen meekly nodded their acceptance.

The next morning Jimmy was allowed to awaken. The only person present was Dr. Kline.

As could be expected, he was groggy and it took almost half an hour for him to fully awaken. When he was looking at Dr. Kline without briefly nodding off she smiled.

“I’m Dr. Mary Kline,” she explained. “I’m here to help you get better in your heart and soul. Do you remember what happened when you woke up three days ago?”

Jimmy cautiously nodded his head.

“You said you hated being a boy and wanted to be a girl,” Dr. Kline continued. “I specialize in helping children who honestly feel like you do become the person they feel they should be. We need to talk and I’ll give you a few simple tests. If our talks and the tests agree with the way you feel, then I will help you become a girl. But you will be a girl with a birth defect between her legs. To do this I will need your cooperation and honesty. Can you do that?”

Jimmy warily sized up the doctor. No one had ever wanted help him. Slowly, afraid it was some sort of trap, he nodded.

“Great,” Dr. Kline smiled. “You will have to talk to me so I can be certain you are a girl.”

With that the discussions began. Jimmy was hesitant at first, but as the good doctor encouraged him and not once belittled or scolded him, he began opening up. The rest of the day was spent talking. Like a typical excited girl, once he felt comfortable the doctor was on his side Jimmy couldn’t shut up.

Two days later Dr. Kline felt her initial prognosis was dead on. The gender analysis tests were as conclusive as they could be. The child was indeed a girl. “Jimmy, I’m fairly convinced you are a girl. That means I can’t refer to you as a boy, a he, or things you have as his. Do you think Jimmy is a good name for a girl?”

“No way,” Jimmy declared. “It’s a terrible name!”

“Since you’ve been wishing to be a girl,” Dr. Kline said. “Is there a girl’s name you call yourself or a name you’d like to be called?”

“I’m Jamie,” the child softly replied afraid she’d be in trouble.

“Jamie, that’s a pretty name for a soon to be pretty girl,” Dr. Kline smiled much to Jamie’s relief. “This is your file, Jamie. Do you see here? Your name is listed as Jimmy?”

Jamie looked at the file and saw his name so he nodded his head.

Dr. Kline firmly crossed off ‘Jimmy’ The she printed in black block letters ‘Jamie’. “I’ve been told you’re smart. Is that how you want to spell your name?”

“J A M I E, Jamie,” the smiling girl beamed. “Yes, I LOVE it! Thank you!” Tears of happiness began to roll down her cheeks.

Just then a nurse knocked on the door before bringing a tray of soft food for Jamie.

“Nurse, this is JAMIE,” Dr. Kline declared. “We’ll have to change ALL her records and inform the staff of her correct name.”

“Of course,” the nurse smiled. Then she took over the chair Dr. Kline vacated so she could feed Jamie.

“While you’re eating, I’m going to get something to eat too,” Dr. Kline smiled. “I’ll be back in a bit.”

Ron and Karen were in the waiting area. Even though they couldn’t see Jimmy, they came every evening. Dr. Kline reported her progress and that their daughter JAMIE was opening up.

Ron and Karen smiled in relief and thanked the doctor, then Ron held up a bag. “We know you said we shouldn’t see Jamie until she’s ready, but this may help her.” With that he pulled out a soft plush very squeezable white angora cat stuffed animal.

“We were hoping you could tell her we would like to peek in the room to give her a present,” Karen hopefully added. “We’d stand in the door and give you the cat. Then we’ll leave. I’ll write JAMIE on the tag for her so she’s aware we know and will accept her.”

Dr. Kline nodded her head. “It sounds like a plan, but be sure to say nothing and leave once I take the cat. Jamie needs to feel safe and comfortable so a silent peace gift would be a good initial contact.”

Twenty minutes later, Dr. Kline returned to Jamie’s room. “The nurse told me you ate all your food. That’s good. You need to eat as much of the food you’re served so you can recover and go home.”

Jamie’s mood quickly turned sour at the reminder of home.

“Jamie, I will not allow you to go home to the situation you had before,” Dr. Kline soothed. “The only way I’ll release you to go home is if your family not only accepts you but supports your need to become the girl you are in your heart. You have my promise on that, okay?”

Jamie tentatively nodded her acceptance.

“I have studied all your records from school, the police, and the hospital you were in when you were beaten,” Dr. Kline informed Jamie. “I’ve also had a counseling session with your parents. When you spit in your father’s face...,”

“H...H...He w...wants to k...k...kill me,” Jamie sniffled.

“At first yes,” Dr. Kline answered softly. “But you also verbally let your parents have it. The doctor sent them out of the room and sedated you. Your harsh words and the obvious hatred you showed them made quite an impression on them. YOU made them think about how they had been treating you. They were quite upset, but not at you, at themselves!”

“Yeah, like that would happen,” Jamie sniffled.

“They went online and researched boys who feel like girls. You are not the only boy who feels like a girl. There are also girls who feel like boys. People who feel they are born in the wrong body are called TRANSGENDERED. There is a lot of information about being transgendered on the internet. Your parents realized the way you’ve behaved was the way a girl would behave. They realized you were telling them the truth when you told them you were a girl. They have admitted they mistreated you and at times abused you and they are deeply sorry and ashamed. They have promised to accept you as Jamie and will help you become the girl you are inside on the outside.”

“Really? They said that?” Jamie was startled and afraid to let her hopes soar.

“Yes, they did,” Dr. Kline replied. “They have been here every day checking up on you but I have refused to let them see or talk to you until you are ready to meet them. They came up with an idea to help you believe they’ve changed. They’re waiting outside the room and have a present for you. I told them, if you approve, that they may stand in the doorway to see you as they give me the gift they’ve gotten you. They are forbidden to speak and will close the door after I take the gift. Now, this will only happen with your approval. Will you allow them to give you a gift to show they are sorry for the way they’ve treated you in the past?”

Jamie was understandably anxious. Everything was moving too fast. Dr. Kline accepted her and now her parents did? All she could think of was that it was simply another way to torture her. Still, Dr. Kline seemed honest and sincere. With an apprehensive nod she gave her permission.

Dr. Kline walked to the door and opened it. Ron and Karen meekly stepped into the doorway and stopped. The parents sheepishly but hopefully looked at their daughter for the first time. Never having seen her parents looking so contrite, Jamie was confused. She hated them for what they’d done to her and her friends, but deep in her nearly crushed heart a tiny flame of love still flickered.

Jamie could see her father place something in Dr. Kline’s hands before they silently stepped back into the hall. Dr. Kline intentionally kept her body between the gift and Jamie as she returned to the bed.

“Jamie, you saw how your parents looked,” Dr. Kline began. “I’m sure you noticed how upset they are about what they had done to you. They know they can never take back the hurt they caused you, but they want to promise you that they will never hurt you again. The gift I have behind my back is their peace offering. Are you ready to accept their gift?”

Jamie was anxious and scared. If it was something for a boy she’d know there would never be a way she could return home. Still, Dr. Kline seemed to accept her as a girl and had said her parents were sorry for not understanding she was really a girl. The gift would reveal whether Dr. Kline was honest or simply another lying adult. After taking a deep breath, she nodded.

Dr. Kline smiled. “Close your eyes. I’ll place the gift on your chest and step back to give you space. Then I’ll tell you to open your eyes.”

Jamie nodded and squeezed her eyes shut. She was afraid to breath as she felt a gentle pressure on her chest followed by Dr. Kline stepping back.

“You may open your eyes,” Dr. Kline said.

Jamie was afraid to open her eyes. If it was a boy gift it would destroy her. Still, she had to know what it was. After taking a deep breath, she slowly opened her eyes just a sliver to squint at the gift. It looked furry... IT LOOKED FURRY! She opened her eyes wide to see the plush white angora cat! It looked simply adorable! She so desperately wanted to grab and stroke it! Yet fear made her hold back. What if this was just another way to torment her? With an expression of hope tinged with the fear of betrayal, she glanced at Dr. Kline.

“It’s your’s,” Dr. Kline reassured her. “Your parents are quite sincere in their sorrow about what they did to you and are determined to correct their mistakes and treat you like the sweet little girl you are inside that yucky boy body.”

Jamie bit her lip and her breathing increased with growing excitement. Slowly, she reached out a hand and tentatively touched the soft fur, still afraid it was some sort of torture while simultaneously hoping her life was finally becoming good. When nothing bad happened, she slowly began to pet the stuffed animal, then after a few seconds she gently picked it up and brought it to her face. Ever so tenderly she nuzzled the soft angora with her nose. Then she hugged the stuffed cat to her face with every ounce of strength she had. Tears of relief and happiness began to flow from her eyes, making the cat’s fur a bit damp.

After allowing Jamie a few moments to commune with the stuffed animal, Dr. Kline spoke. “Jamie, do you think it would be okay if I let your parents come in so they can apologize to you? I promise that if they do anything to hurt you, I will send them away, permanently. Do you think you can handle them coming in?

Jamie slowly nodded her head as she cuddled the cat to her.

Dr. Kline briefly stepped out of the room to tell Ron and Karen Jamie consented to allowing them to come into the room. She cautioned them that if, at any point, Jamie began too become upset or if she asked them to leave, they were to immediately leave without questions or comments.

Ron and Karen agreed to the terms.

Jamie could feel his blood pounding in the blood vessels in his temples. A polite knock on the door alerted her to their entrance.

Dr. Kline entered first with Karen and Ron following. Dr. Kline motioned for the couple to stand at the foot of the bed as she moved to stand beside Jamie. The adults could see Jamie was trying to be brave as she hugged her cat but her anxiety was evident as her hands trembled and her bottom lip quivered.

“Dear God, Jamie, we’re so sorry,” Karen began in a soft sorrowful voice. “We never meant to hurt you but we did anyway. We simply had no idea that deep inside, you were a girl. We only saw the boy on the outside and we were trying to make him tougher. God, we were so stupid and blind. Please, try to forgive us. We really want you in our lives, as our daughter.”

“Jimm... damn... JAMIE, I’m so sorry,” Ron declared in a gloomy voice. “You have every right to hate us. The way we treated you was horrible. We simply did not understand. As your mom said, we were stupid, no, we were beyond stupid, we were half-witted. We were so focused on the boy we saw on the outside we never took time to look at the person on the inside. We were so intent on making you become a tough guy like your brothers, we missed the truth. Once you let us have it, we stopped and thought about your behavior. Jamie, it was like someone hit us on the head with a baseball bat just to get our attention. Everything you did screamed GIRL but we were too blind to see her. Now that we do see her, we’ll never be able to see you in any way, shape or form other than as a girl.”

With that Ron knelt on the floor, placing his folded hands on the footboard of the bed. Tears began to form in the corners of his eyes as he resumed speaking. “Jamie, you know I’m a proud, tough man. But I was so very wrong in how I treated you. For the first time in my life, I’m down on my knees begging. Can you please find it in your heart to forgive us? We’re praying you’ll give us a chance to prove we know how wrong we were and are so sorry.”

Karen knelt beside Ron, too choked up to speak but the tears of remorse flowing down her cheeks were genuine.

The couple looked longingly at their daughter hoping for forgiveness.

Jamie felt tears forming in her eyes. Could their self-reproach be honest? For a few silent moments she looked at her parents, her piercing eyes burrowing into their anguished eyes. She could see no deceit, only honest heartfelt regret. “I can never forget what you did to me,” Jamie declared vehemently.

Ron and Karen felt as if the very air was being sucked out of their lungs as they both let their heads drop to thump against the footboard.

“But I’ll try to forgive you,” Jamie courageously added.

Karen and Ron jerked their heads up in surprise to look at their daughter. The hope on their faces was clearly evident.

Jamie timidly smiled and spoke in a soft wistful voice. “Mommy... Daddy... can I have a hug?”

Both parents leapt to their feet and scrambled to either side of the bed. Dr. Kline barely avoided being bulldozed by Ron. Simultaneously the couple leaned in to give their daughter the requested hug. CRACK! Their heads hit with a great deal of force causing both to yelp, yet neither jerked back. Instead they leaned in side by side to give Jamie her hug.

Jamie reached out with her bandaged arms to hug her parents as she broke down in tears.

The adults realized the tears were a combination of joy and the release of pent up aggression and fear. The parents began crying along with their daughter. Dr. Kline even had to wipe away a few tears.

Epilogue

Once her parents accepted Jamie as their daughter, it was almost impossible to quiet her. Jamie certainly made up for all the dreary months of silence. The reconciliation was not entirely smooth but it progressed despite the minor bumps. Ron and the twins occasionally allowed a bit of macho exuberance to overflow onto Jamie. Jamie never complained but a bit of the morose Jimmy glinted through her normal girlish ebullience. The mere hint of a shadow of the banished morose boy was all the warning the three guys needed to back off. For her part, Jamie vividly remembered her hellish existence as Jimmy and never wanted to go back to that horrid life. No one in her family wanted that to happen. Jamie had no issues with her daddy and brothers being macho. She supported their efforts and would politely listen as they told her of their exploits in Pop Wanner football.

Ron, with the assistance of the twins, repainted Jimmy’s drab Spartan bedroom before she was released from the hospital. The dull white walls were painted lilac while the woodwork was painted rose pink. The drab twin bed was replaced by a four poster twin with matching dresser, night stand and a combo desk/ vanity. Shelves were added as future storage/display space for dolls and other girlish knick-knacks. The remodel was completed in time for Jamie’s homecoming.

Timmy and Tommy didn’t understand why Jimmy was a girl in a boy’s body but they sure could see and HEAR her! Even though they realized they would be missing the unwanted gifts Jimmy had always passed on to them, they were glad to have their younger sibling smiling. The anxiety and tension that Jimmy’s anti-social behavior had engendered in the family had dissipated.

Ron and Karen relaxed and once more began to smile and laugh. Karen quite enjoyed her chatterbox daughter. Shopping for a new girly wardrobe for Jamie turned out to be quite enjoyable. Ron wasn’t happy about the cost of the shopping spree but was delighted by the new family dynamics.

Grandma, with grandpa’s able assistance, made sure the extended family accepted Jamie or at least kept their bigoted opinions to themselves.

Jamie returned to school after the Christmas break, having caught up on the lessons she’d missed while recovering from her burns. The three girls who had been her friends in kindergarten eagerly renewed their friendship. Most of the boys ignored Jamie, especially since Timmy and Tommy had put out the word that anyone who messed with their little sister would be in a heap... of trouble.

The end.



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