|The Man from Swift Current|
|© 2011 Russ Nielsen
All Rights Reserved
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|Chapter 66: Robbie|
When I awoke the next morning, I remembered having the most vivid dream I’ve ever experienced. I’d dreamt that Rick was home from overseas, and we’d had the most amazing night together to celebrate his return. I started to roll over to see what time it was when I realized, to my surprise, that Robbie was in bed with me. His face was so peaceful in slumber, but there were still hints of his inner struggles in the dark circles around his eyes and the set of his mouth. I’d sensed that he still wasn’t comfortable with who he was and needed a lot of affirmation that he’s okay.
Beneath the confident exterior every teen tries to show the rest of the world, I recognized a fellow traveler on the same road I’d been down; wondering who I really was, confused at my attraction for guys, but, yet, wanting to meet everyone’s expectations of me. I saw the haunted look in his eyes that showed there were really two different people in there trying to take control of his life. One that wanted to be the perfectly straight, “normal,” teenager everyone expected him to be; and the other one who wanted to be true to his inner feelings and follow his heart into the uncharted waters of being gay, where very few people would approve of him, support him or even acknowledge he had the right to be gay.
As I watched, his eyes opened and his gaze met mine. We didn’t say anything to each other for a few moments, then, he smiled at me and said, “I hope you’re not angry with me. I wanted to sleep next to you. I know you have a boyfriend, so I didn’t dare just ask you if I could sleep with you.”
“No, I’m not angry, just a little surprised is all,” I replied. Seeing his smile falter, I pulled him into my arms and held him close to me. Looking into his eyes, I said, reassuringly, “It’s okay, Robbie.”
“I’ve never slept with anyone before, except Zach. When we were little, I always slept in Zach’s bed because I would get scared, and he always said I could sleep with him until the monsters went away,” Robbie said. “Somehow, I felt I could sleep beside you and you wouldn’t reject me.”
“Do you have many friends at school,” I asked. Robbie looked away from me and didn’t answer. “You don’t have to talk to me about it if you aren’t ready.” I put my hand under his chin and turned his face toward me. I gently kissed his lips. I pulled back and watched Robbie closely to see his reaction, and was troubled to see the tears begin flowing down his cheeks. I hugged him as he clung to me. “It’s okay, Robbie. Let all the hurt come out,” I said, soothingly. Robbie hid his face in my chest and watered my bare skin with his tears. I felt the sobs wrack his body, as the pain and anguish he felt manifested itself.
After what seemed an eternity, Robbie pulled back from me, “I’m sorry. You must think I’m a cry baby.” He rubbed his eyes as he tried to bring himself back under control.
“I don’t think any such thing. I see someone who needs a friend, that’s what I see,” I said, taking his hands in mine.
Robbie gave me a weak smile, “I guess you’re right. I’ve tried to pretend that everything is okay so my parents won’t worry. I don’t have any friends at school. The gay kids look down on me because I’m not as willing to be as actively engaged in their efforts to stand up for their rights, and the straight kids hate me because I’m gay. I just don’t fit in anywhere.”
“You said there was a gay-straight alliance at your school. What about them?” I asked.
“They’re the ones I meant. They are worse in some ways than the straight kids. The teacher advisor never shows up for the meetings, and doesn’t really think we should have a gay-straight alliance at the school. He says that gay kids should transfer to another school if they can’t handle being at our school,” Robbie said.
“Why haven’t you talked to your parents about this?” I asked, earnestly.
“I don’t want them to worry; but mostly, I don’t want to go to a private school. When I came out to them, they immediately started looking for a private school. With all of the bullying that goes on in the public schools, my parents think that a private school would be much better for me,” Robbie answered.
“Why don’t you want to go to a private school? You don’t seem very happy going to your current school.” I said.
“I’m afraid to start over. Won’t people there react the same way they have at my school?” Robbie asked.
“That depends. You are obviously really into music. Ask your parents to look for a school that specializes in music. You more than likely will find a much better atmosphere there than at a public school,” I said. “Ask them to make you part of the process. Make up a list of questions to ask the administrators to see just how gay friendly they are. Insist that you be allowed to talk with some of the students about the environment at the school; I mean without adults in the room to intimidate them.”
Robbie asked, “Do you really think I should go to a private school?”
“Robbie, I don’t know what is best for you, but it’s very apparent you’re not happy where you are. You need to make some changes, and I’m suggesting that maybe a private school might be something that will improve things for you,” I said.
“How did you handle being gay when you came out?” Robbie asked.
“I went to a small school in a tiny farming community not far from our farm. I didn’t dare come out as being gay to anyone. I knew I’d be ostracized at a minimum, and beat up or killed at worst; so I didn’t dare let anyone know I liked being with guys. I dated girls and tried to fit in with the rest of my school mates. Those were some of the worst years of my life, always worrying that I would be found out.
“For my senior year, I went to school with Ben in Swift Current. When I came out to Ben’s parents, they were really cool about it. That made all the difference in the world to me. I didn’t have to hide who I was anymore. All the energy I had wasted on pretending to be someone I wasn’t went into improving myself and becoming who I wanted to be. Another thing that made a big difference for me was having a support group at the school. Ben and his teammates made me part of their group, and made sure everyone else in the school knew it. I only had one incident where one of the guys said something to me at school. He apologized to me the next day. I think Ben and his friends let him know he’d made a mistake saying those kinds of things to me,” I said.
“So Ben is like your protector like Zach is for me?” Robbie asked.
“I haven’t thought about it like that, but you could say that. Ben has always been my best friend. Everyone needs a best friend like Ben,” I said.
Robbie looked sad, “I wish I had someone like Ben at school. Zach is so much older than me, and can’t be there for me, like Ben was for you.”
“Well, the first step to finding someone to be your friend is to be a friend to someone first. You have to be able to make the first move to let someone know you want to be their friend,” I said.
“But I’m so afraid of rejection. I don’t think I can do that,” Robbie said, almost in tears again.
“Robbie. You already have friends,” I said, trying to head off a complete meltdown.
“I do?” Robbie asked, in astonishment.
“Yes, I’m your friend and so is Mark. Don’t we count?” I asked, with a smile.
Robbie’s face brightened with a smile, “Yes. But that’s not the same as having a friend at school.”
“Well, what did you do to become my friend?” I asked. “You’ve known me less than 24 hours now.”
Robbie thought for a minute. “I shared my favorite activities with you. I think we connected because we’re both interested in music.”
“Do you know if some of your classmates are interested in music?” I asked.
“Yes, I know a couple who are just as serious about music as I am,” Robbie admitted.
“Why don’t you invite them and their parents over for a mini recital, like we had last night?” I suggested.
Robbie looked doubtful, “Why would they want to come here?”
“You could have your parents call their parents to extend the invitation. You could turn it into a party afterwards for teens only; so you could get to know them better,” I said, hoping I wasn’t setting Robbie up with false expectations.
“I don’t know if I want to have them come here,” Robbie said.
I asked, “Robbie, where do you feel the most comfortable; here or at school?”
“Here, of course,” came Robbie’s hesitant reply.
“Well, where better to try to get to know new people, and make new friends than here. You will feel much more at ease and can always excuse yourself if you need to get away. Set up a secret signal with your parents if you feel you need to be rescued. That way you can let them know you need help,” I said.
Robbie thought about it for a few minutes, “I still don’t know if it’s a good idea.”
“Will you at least talk to your parents about what’s going on at school?” I asked, earnestly.
Robbie looked like a deer who was about to take flight, “I can’t do that.”
“Will you talk to them if Zach and I are with you?” I asked.
Robbie still looked uncertain. “Maybe, but let’s talk to Zach about it first, okay?”
“Sure. I think that Zach will agree with me. I think the more people who know what’s going on, the better. Robbie, you are NOT alone. You have a family who loves you. DON’T shut them out!” I said, looking him in the eyes to make sure he was listening to me.
Robbie nodded that he understood. I brought my hand up to his cheek and gently caressed the peach fuzz that I found there, “Robbie, you are a great kid and I want you to know that I understand what you’re going through. Don’t give in to the negative thoughts you’re having. Remember, happiness is a choice not a permanent state of being. You can choose to be happy and positive, or you can choose to be miserable and unhappy.”
Robbie finally smiled. He leaned closer to me and gave me a kiss on the lips. He deepened the kiss and then pulled back.
“Robbie Anderson, you are a little tease. You’d better go back to your own room before everyone wakes up,” I said, smiling at my young friend.
Robbie laughed, “Are you sure you have a boyfriend?” He started moving against me. I could feel how hard he was and I had to fight hard to control my own reaction to him, failing miserably. Robbie moved his hand down below to massage me through the mesh underwear I had worn to bed.
“Yes, Robbie. I’m sure I have a boyfriend,” I said, resisting the urge to lean my head back and moan with pleasure.
“But you want me,” Robbie boldly stated.
I looked Robbie in the eyes, “Yes, I want you. You are a very handsome guy, and I would love to have sex with you; but I also know that neither of us would be happy if we did.” I kissed Robbie deeply, and then moved away from him.
Robbie looked hurt, “Robbie, I’m not rejecting you. Remember, I’m still your friend; even if I won’t have sex with you.”
Robbie smiled at me, “You really must love Rick.”
“Why do you say that?” I asked.
“Because, you could have sex with me and no one would ever know; but, yet, you are still faithful to him,” Robbie said.
“Robbie, I love Rick very much. I don’t want to do anything that will hurt him. When you love someone, you do everything you can to make them happy, and they do the same for you,” I said.
I got out of bed and padded over to the bathroom. I made no attempt to hide the fact that I was very aroused.
Robbie laughed, “See, I did make you want me!”
I laughed as well, “Yes, you succeeded in your mission to get me to want you. Robbie, you’re extremely desirable to me. So much so, that it means I will need to be extra careful not to cross into territory where we will both be hurt.”
Robbie followed me into the bathroom where we both relieved ourselves. “Robbie, do you ever stop?” I asked, incredulously.
He put his arm around my waist and turned my head to kiss me, before saying, “No, I don’t stop when I want someone as much as I want you.” He smiled at me, “Glenn, you’re the best.”
I frowned at him, causing him to say, “I promise to behave myself the rest of the day, though, okay?”
“Okay, you’d better go get dressed. I’m hungry and you’re going to show me where to get breakfast,” I said, laughing at him as he showed off for me. Damn, he was so beautiful! Why did I have to meet so many great looking guys after I was already in a relationship?
He left my room as I turned to find some clean clothes before getting into the shower. I was pulling on my shorts when Zach tapped on the door and opened it.
“Good morning, Glenn! I hope you slept well,” Zach said, smiling. I couldn’t help but notice how handsome he looked in his Speedo underwear. His well-sculpted muscles and large bulge in his Speedo’s had me drooling.
Zach laughed when he noticed me staring at his package, “I’m sorry, Glenn. I’m used to running around here in my underwear. I saw Robbie leave your room earlier. I hope he didn’t cause any problems.”
I motioned Zach into the room, and I sat down on the bed indicating that Zach should do the same. Zach had a very worried expression on his face as he sat down.
“Don’t worry, Zach. Robbie didn’t do anything to upset me. However, I do want to talk to you about Robbie,” I said. Zach’s perfectly muscled body was distracting me so much, I was having a difficult time concentrating on what I needed to say. Finally, I decided to try not looking at him.
Zach saw me look away, “Are you alright?” he asked.
I blushed, “I’m just having a hard time concentrating with you sitting so close to me. I miss Rick so much, that right now, every good looking guy is causing me problems!”
It took Zach a minute to figure out what I meant. He burst out laughing, “So what you’re telling me is that Robbie and I have you so amped up that you need a release?”
I nodded sheepishly, “You really turn me on Zach. I’m not trying to make a pass at you, okay? But you asked me if I was alright, so I’m telling you what’s going on with me, so you won’t be offended if I try not to look at you right now.”
Zach grinned from ear to ear, “I’m glad to know that I meet your approval. I was beginning to worry that I wasn’t good enough to get you to notice me!”
I looked up from my contemplation of the floor and met Zach’s eyes, “Zach, you’re every gay guy’s wet dream! The last few days watching you guys practice has been pure hell for me! I’ve wished more than once that I didn’t have a boyfriend and could play the field!”
Zach laughed, “I’m happy to know that you’ve still got that sex drive going! I’ll have to let Rick know that you’re a saint, though. If it were me, I would have gone down on a couple of the guys already!”
“I thought you were straight!” I exclaimed, in surprise.
“What gave you that idea? Robbie and I are both gay. That’s why I was worried that he spent the night in your room,” Zach said. “He told me he thinks you’re the best looking guy he’s ever seen.”
“I think he’s pretty good looking himself; however, he didn’t get what he was looking for when he climbed in bed with me! We had quite a heart to heart talk, and I want to share with you what we talked about, but I want him to be here as well,” I said.
Just as I finished speaking, Robbie walked into my room and saw us talking. He tried to back out to the room, but I got up and took his hand. I led him over to the bed and gently pushed him so he sat down on the bed.
“You’re not going anywhere, buddy,” I said in a stern voice. I couldn’t help laughing at the worried look on his face. “You’re not in trouble! I just want Zach to know what we’ve been talking about this morning.”
I sat down next to Robbie and put my arm around his shoulders. He was looking down at the floor and had started to tremble.
Zach moved over and sat next to Robbie on the other side. Zach put his arms around his brother’s waist and pulled him close. “Come on, little brother, you can talk to me. You know that I love you very much.”
That’s all it took to break the dam, and Robbie started pouring out his heart to his brother. As Zach listened, his face grew grave, as he realized just what was happening to his little brother.
Zach looked over Robbie’s head at me, “I’m glad you came to visit us, Glenn. I don’t think I would have ever known that Robbie needed my help.”
“Zach, do you think your parents would let Robbie live with us and go to school in Minneapolis?” I asked.
“I don’t know. Why?” Zach asked, in return.
“I was just thinking that he could live with us, and attend school near us for awhile. Maybe there’s a music school he could attend. I’ve heard that most major cities have special high schools that cater to the arts,” I said.
Zach looked doubtful, “I’ve never heard of one in Minneapolis. Let’s check it out on the internet before we talk to my parents.”
Robbie had dried his eyes and looked at me in wonder, “Do you really think that I could come live with you guys?”
“Only if you promise NOT to sneak into my bed and try to have sex with me,” I said, laughing.
Robbie looked over at Zach to see his reaction. Zach laughed, “Don’t worry, little brother, I knew what you were up to when I saw you come out of Glenn’s room this morning.”
Robbie looked like he had been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. “I’m sorry, Zach. I know I shouldn’t have tried to get Glenn to have sex with me.”
Zach acknowledged the apology, “That’s right. You shouldn’t have done that, but Glenn seems to have handled the situation very well, and it’s better that we know what’s going on with you.”
Zach stood up and took his brother’s hand. “Let’s check out high schools in Minneapolis.” They crossed the hall to Zach’s room. I followed them and sat on Zach’s bed while they huddled around Zach’s laptop.
After a few minutes, Zach pointed to the computer screen, “You could attend school at the Minnesota Arts High School in Golden, MN. It’s only 8 miles or so from Glenn’s house on Como Avenue. I could drop you off every morning and pick you up after school if you wanted to move down to Minneapolis with us.”
Robbie said, “I’d like to try it if Mom and Dad will let me.” He looked over at me, “Of course, you and Ben would have to agree to let me stay with you.”
I smiled, “I don’t think that would be a problem. Ben and I have shared a room before so we could do it again. That way, you would have your own room, and we wouldn’t be keeping you from your studies.”
Ben walked into Zach’s room, “What’s this about having to share a room with you?”
Zach explained what Robbie had told him, and how we thought that Robbie might do better attending a special school.
Ben agreed, “I think that’s a great idea! So Robbie, do you think that’s something you’d like to do?”
Robbie hesitated, “I would like it very much, but I don’t want to impose on you and Glenn.”
Ben looked over at me, “I’m okay sharing a room with you, Glenn, if it’s alright with you.”
I nodded my agreement, “I think it will work out for us. I did make Robbie promise not to climb in bed with me anymore, though.”
Ben did a double take, “What?”
Robbie laughed, “I climbed in bed with Glenn last night while he was asleep.”
Ben laughed, “I’m sure Glenn loved that!”
I said, “I sure did, but I had to work hard to keep my promise to Rick, no thanks to this young kid!”
Robbie looked offended, “Who is calling who a young kid? You’re only 3 years older than me!”
I continued to tease Robbie, “I think that the youngest one in the house should do all of the house cleaning, don’t you, Ben?”
Ben laughed at Robbie’s look of horror, “Yes, I do think that the youngest member of the household should do our combined laundry, too!”
Robbie expressed his disagreement, “That’s not fair!”
“Who said it was fair? Don’t you agree, Zach?” I asked.
Zach smiled broadly, playing along with us, “Robbie, a little bit of housework won’t hurt you. In fact, it might make you appreciate everything Mom does for you.”
Robbie swallowed hard, “You really don’t mean that, do you?”
Robbie’s stricken look had the rest of laughing so hard, our sides hurt. I said, “Robbie you are too much! No, we won’t make you do all the chores, but we will expect you to do your fair share. Relax!”
Robbie’s sigh of relief was so comical that we all burst out laughing again.
Zach said, “Robbie, you are such a comedian! Let me print off this information about the Art High School for Mom and Dad.”
He hit print and waited for the printer to do its thing. “Let’s go talk to Mom and Dad and see what they think.”
We followed Zach into the kitchen. His parents were just setting the table for breakfast. Mrs. Anderson said, “Perfect timing boys. Please sit down and we’ll eat.”
Mr. Anderson put his newspaper down and we started eating. After we had finished and were cleaning up the dishes, Zach said, “Mom and Dad can we talk to you?”
Mrs. Anderson replied, “Sure, sweetheart. Let’s go into the family room so we can all be comfortable.”
We followed her into the family room. When everyone was settled, Zach began to narrate the events of the morning ending with our research on the internet for an Arts High School.
I watched Mr. and Mrs. Anderson as Zach talked. At first, they looked shocked, then, they grew concerned. I could see the pain in their eyes as they realized just how much Robbie was hurting inside.
Mr. Anderson said, “Robbie, I’m glad you talked with Glenn, but I’m hurt that you didn’t talk to us sooner.”
Robbie looked at his feet, “I’m sorry, Dad. I didn’t want to worry you.”
Mrs. Anderson got up and came over to sit next to her son, “Robbie, we love you very much.” She put her arms around him and hugged him tightly.
Robbie’s lost control at that point, and clung to his mother, letting his emotions manifest themselves. Mr. Anderson joined them on the couch and hugged them both.
Mr. Anderson looked over at the three of us, “Do you think that sending Robbie away to school will help him?”
Zach answered his Dad, “I don’t know, Dad. We were brainstorming ideas of how to help Robbie when Glenn suggested that we look for an arts school where Robbie could improve his music skills, since he loves music so much.”
Mrs. Anderson said, “I think we’ll have to investigate our options more thoroughly, before we make a decision. No matter what we decide to do, Robbie won’t be going back to his old school.”
Robbie smiled through his tears, “I love you, Mom.”
Mrs. Anderson gave her son a kiss on the cheek, “It’s a beautiful day outside. Why don’t you boys head over to the lake and take the boat out?”
Zach smiled, “That’s sounds like a great idea, Mom! Come on, guys, let’s go.”
I could see that Zach was relieved that his parents weren’t angry at Robbie, and were willing to consider sending Robbie to Minneapolis with us.
Zach called Mark, who showed up a few minutes later to join us for our trip out in the Anderson’s boat. We spent the entire day motoring around the lake, exploring the shoreline. It felt good to relax and enjoy being together with friends. Most importantly, we got to know Robbie and he got to know us. By the end of the day, Robbie was pretty confident that he’d fit right in at our place.
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