Date: Sat, 09 Jan 1999 20:36:30 PST From: Joseph Thoreau <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: My Hero - Chapter 2 DISCLAIMER ********** This story contains sexual acts between teenage boys. If this is not to your liking, then leave. Simple. If you are UNDER the age of consent for state / country / planet and all laws effective there, please leave now. Of course, I'm underage and I wrote it, so that's pretty odd, don't you think? I wrote this story. I would be very appreciative if it wasn't changed in any way. You may post it to newsgroups, give it to friends, use it to line a birdcage, as long as I am accredited as the author and you do not charge for doing so. Thanks. The story is an odd mix of fact and fiction, inasmuch as I exist, the people in this story exist (names have been changed), but these events have not taken place outside my hormone charged imagination. This is not a story about sex. It is a love story with sexual elements in it. The sex takes a while to get to, so be patient. If you are just looking for something to jerk off to, you should probably move on. If you like this story, mail me at JDThoreau@hotmail.com. If you don't like it, mail me anyway and tell me what's wrong with it. Praise will be appreciated, flames will be ignored. Enjoy! To Matt-For both the inspiration for this story and his constant support throughout the development of it. Thanks, bro. I love you. Things were going great. I was happier than I had ever been! Through the combined effect of my relationships with Mrs. Estes and my Uncle Ray, for the first time in my life, I felt truly loved. I had at least two people on my life who cared about me. The second six weeks was nearly half-way over. One Monday night, my parents and I were watching television in the living room. We did this often because I didn't have cable in my room. We didn't say much to each other, the little conversation that was going on was between my mother and father. I remember it was October 12 and we were watching the six o'clock news. About halfway through the broadcast, they started airing a story about a young man whose name I would come to remember: Matthew Shepard. The story started out something like this: "Matthew Shepard, a former Denver resident, died early this morning from severe injuries due to a brutal beating and torture in Laramie, Wyoming." My ears perked up. The newscast explained the whole thing. It went on about the bar he was at, the men he had left with, how they had beaten, robbed, and left him for dead, tied to a fencepost in the cold Wyoming night. All because he was gay. Gay. Because he was gay. The reality of this hit me like a slap to the face. Breathing became difficult. My mind was spinning, struggling to understand. At first I was skeptical, having trouble believing that any human being could have done this to another. I then got hold of myself and realized that this happens everyday. And the motive? I had seen the very same hatred and intolerance even in the eyes of my own parents. And the act itself? I could imagine what he had felt. The fear of knowing what the two rednecks were going to do to him, the feel of the butt of a .357 Magnum slamming into his head, on his knees, begging for his life until with one final blow they crushed his skull and left him for dead. At last, merciful darkness for five days, lying comatose in a hospital until death finally came to take him. It was just so wrong. So very wrong. It became real for me. I was Matthew, Matthew was me. Matthew was every person who had ever been in danger for being different. It was so wrong! How could they have done this? How could they take a life so casually? I struggled to understand, to try to find some sort of meaning in this cruel act of hatred and... "Well, that's a shame. But if you want to sin, you have to pay the price." I looked at my father in disbelief. "What do you mean?" "You know how God feels about queers. If you want to live your life like that, you have to be prepared to suffer the wrath of God. I feel no sympathy for him. It's too bad he died, but he brought it on himself." I couldn't believe he was saying this. It was so inhumane! "Is that what you think? Is that what you think God would want? You're just as bad as the people who killed him!" The story ended with a picture of Matthew Shepard, with the caption "1976-1998" underneath. "Look at him! Look! When you see him, what do you see? All you see is a queer, a fag! For God's sake, he was a human being! A thinking, caring, feeling human being! And all you can say is 'too bad, you brought it on yourself?' You might as well have beat him to death yourself, with your own two hands! This is an abomination. This is what God hates. Not the fact that he loved men, but the fact that he was killed by hatred! You might be able to hate, but God doesn't share your hatred or your fear! Don't say it was God that killed him, because it was people like you!" I stood up to get out of the room, but my father blocked my path. His face was red with shock at my insolence. He looked at me, his nostrils flaring and said, "How dare you? Just who in the hell do you think you are to lecture me on..." He stopped when he saw the look in my eyes. I stared straight into him. I could feel the veins in my forehead sticking out. I said in a low voice, "Get out of my way." He looked even more shocked and began to lift his hand, as if in preparation for a slap. He stopped himself and looked at my fists. They were down by my sides, clenching and unclenching, the muscles in my forearms bulging. He looked like he was going to say something, but just walked away. I walked out of the room, never looking back. I got to my room and slammed the door. I threw myself down on my bed and grabbed a pillow. I held it over my face, blocking out the external world, but failing miserably to calm my mind. I just kept going over what the news had reported. It just couldn't be. A man, with as much right to live as anyone, was killed. A person, a human being, a bright flame extinguished by ignorance: an ignorance I knew all too well. I raised my fist and punched down on my pillow, over and over again. I don't think the pillow cared, but when I was through, my face was pretty sore. I laid there in perfect darkness, exhausted. Eventually my anger faded and gave way to a more lasting and appropriate emotion. I began to cry. I shed tears for a man whom I had never met, but with whom I shared so much. I laid there until my sadness enveloped me like a blanket. I don't know how long I stayed like that, but I was still crying when sleep found me that night. The next day, I woke up feeling terrible. My sleep had been wracked by nightmares, so I was exhausted. My eyes were irritated, my body was sore, and I felt like there was a block of ice in my stomach. I would've stayed home from my school, but I wanted desperately to talk to Mrs. Estes. I left the house just as I always did, saying goodbye to no one. You know, sometimes I thought that my parents would have been happy if one day I just never came home. First period lasted an awfully long time that day. I finally made it to second period. When I walked in the class, Mrs. Estes looked at me and automatically knew something was wrong. She walked to me and said, "Jeff, what's the matter?" I looked into her large, expressive brown eyes. They looked so kind, so full of concern for me. I began to choke up. I managed to croak out, "Later. Will you be here after school?" "Of course. Are you sure you don't..." She could tell it was not the right time to talk to me. "Okay. After school. I'll be here." That day passed like an eternity. When seventh period finally ended, I made my way to her classroom. She was standing at her podium, waiting for me. She saw me and motioned me in. When I walked through the door and set my backpack down, she went behind me and closed the door. She grabbed my hand and led me behind her desk. She sat in her large, high-backed chair and motioned me to a comfortable chair that she had set up beside it. She turned her chair towards me and said, "Okay. What's wrong?" I leaned back and shut my eyes. I took a deep breath and said, "Matthew Shepard." "The young man who was murdered in Wyoming?" I nodded. "That was tragic. What about it?" I opened my eyes and tried to force some words out. "It seems so...wrong. It shouldn't have been. I don't know...why did he have to die?" Being the understanding and sensitive soul that she was, she did not even ask why I was concerned about it. She replied in a soft voice, "Well, Jeff, you know that there are people in this world who hate. These people are filled with hatred, and hatred destroys." "But it was so evil. Just because he was gay?" She took my hand once more. "Jeff, you also know there is ignorance in this world. People who are ignorant sometimes strike out at others. You are a compassionate person, I can understand why this would bother you so much." I was silent for a few moments. "It's not just that. It could have been me," She looked at me keenly. "...or you or anyone." She stared at me for awhile. "You know, I said there is ignorance and hatred in this world. That is a horrible fact of life that we must learn to deal with. It's reprehensible, but it is true. Here's another truth: the people in your life that love you are going to love you no matter what." I looked into her eyes once more and saw only kindness, love, and empathy. Damn. She was clever. I gathered my courage. I stared at her and said, "I'm gay." She smiled at me and said softly, "Good." I started to cry. She grabbed me in her arms, and no place I had ever been in my life had felt as welcome. A minute later, I had gotten control of my sobbing. She had been holding me, letting me vent all my years of pain and solitude. I removed myself and looked at her. I saw her eyes were wet, too. I grabbed a Kleenex, handed one to her, and dabbed my eyes. I cleared my throat. "Okay. So, how are you?" We both laughed. She removed her glasses and cleaned them. She returned them to her face. "I'm fine. So, want to talk about it?" I told her my whole story. Growing up gay, my apathetic parents, about working out with my Uncle to try to feel better about myself. That was the only time she interrupted. "Is that the same Uncle Ray you are always talking about? The only member of your family who you are close to?" I nodded and continued with my story. When I was finished, with the outburst at my Dad from the night before, I felt better than I could ever remember feeling. I felt as though a weight had been lifted from my chest. I felt happy, buoyant, free...and most of all, accepted. I looked at the clock and was shocked to see it was five o'clock. "Oh, my God. I've kept you here for over an hour. I'd better go." She quieted me. "Don't worry about it. That's what friends are for. Listen to me. This is the most important thing I can ever tell you. If you don't listen to anything I say today, listen to this. Like I said, the people who love you will continue loving you no matter what. You are who you are, not what you are. You are a wonderful person. You are intelligent, attractive, funny, strong, and kind. You have so many great qualities. Never let anyone make you feel like you are less than that. You are going to face struggles in this life, but you are a great person and you know how to love. You will get through them. Just be strong." She glanced at the clock as well. "You're right. It is getting late. Do you understand what I said?" I grinned, embarrassed. "Yeah, I think I do." She smiled. "Good. You know what I was saying about people loving you for who you are?" I nodded. "Well, I think I'm pretty lucky to be able to consider myself one of those people." I walked over and hugged her. "I love you, too." I grabbed my bag and headed for the door. She called to me. "See you tomorrow?" "Wouldn't miss it for the world." I walked out to my car that day with a huge smile on my face. Only one thing bothered me from the conversation. She thought that I was strong. I didn't have the heart to tell her it wasn't true. I didn't want her to know that. I did love her, but telling her that would have made me vulnerable. I couldn't abide that. Although I had learned many things, knew how to fight, I still felt like that scared little boy. I was trying to prepare myself for any contingency, but I knew it was hopeless. I wasn't in control. No one really is. I would continue to train, of course. I wanted to be with Uncle Ray, and it was a great way to stay fit. Martial arts are a good thing to know. Still, I did feel kind of powerless sometimes. I was very happy to have Mrs. Estes in my life, but I still longed for a kindred spirit. I didn't even know anyone who was gay. If only there was someone for me... That night when I went to sleep, I cried a little for Matthew Shepard. He had been hurt miserably, but he was not dead. As long as I lived, I would remember him, try to honor his memory. That's the best thing I could think to do. As I feel asleep I thought, rest easy, Matt, wherever you are. You did not die in vain.