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Chapter 23

by Michael Peterson

Be advised that in the following one will find graphic sexual depiction between minors and minors and adults. The story is fiction but based on real characters, events, places and situations. There is no relationship between the names used and that of any real person.

Dear Reader,

This is the final chapter. I want to thank all of you for the many kind Emails. It was heartening to hear your appreciation. I will always cherish that.

I know some of you would like the tale of Malcolm to follow him into adulthood but this is the story of a boy and his struggles with his father which must terminate when those struggles come to an end.

More stories and books are in the future though one such as Malcolm may never happened again. He is a unique character that emerged somewhat surprisingly from the first line of chapter one.


A noise awakened me early Sunday morning. Somebody was banging on something. It came again. Someone was knocking hard on the door below. I was immediately alert. The light outside the window was that of very early morning. I shook Sammy.

'Sammy! Sammy!'

I heard his aunt shuffle past our door in her slippers.

After giving Sammy another push, I jumped out of bed and grabbed up my clothes, dressing fast as I could, getting them on without fastening anything but the button on my pants.

Sammy sat up. 'What's?'

The knocking came again.

'Shit! The cops?'

'How can I get outta here, back or front?' I asked. Inside, I was terrified. I knew there was no way out from the second floor. The back window was over the back porch stairs. I'd break my legs or worse jumping there. The front and side windows were just too high off the ground. Anyhow, the cops, and probably that detective, were out there waiting.

Sammy said, 'Go hide in my aunt's room! Maybe they won't look there. I'll go down and tell them you're not here. Hurry!'

I grabbed the shopping bag with my clothes. The savings passbook was downstairs in the store on top of a high shelf under a box of bags. There was two hundred dollars in Sammy's closet but stashed inside a box of school material. There was no time to go after it.

I ran down the hall while Sammy, pulling his pants over a bare body, headed for the stairs. I'd never been inside his aunt's bedroom and had no idea what to expect. There was a made up bed, an easy chair, a dresser, a closet. The only place to hide was behind the bed. Any place else would have been too obvious. I left the door open hoping to throw them off.

Only the occasional word made it up the stairs and down to me. Twice a man's voice said 'bullshit.' I tied my shoes and buttoned my shirt. Then, I heard them all enter. Heavy footsteps came up the stairs. I watched from floor level behind the frilly spread. A policeman came into the hall first followed by Sammy's aunt, then Sammy and a heavy set man in a suit.

'No more bullshit, kid,' insisted the suit angrily, 'where is he?'

'I told you. He's not here. The last I saw him was when he got off the bus downtown.'

'Which is the kid's room?' the suit asked the aunt.

She pointed.

'Check the bathroom,' the suit ordered the cop.

Sammy and his aunt followed the suit into the bedroom. The cop disappeared into the bathroom. I hopped up. I figured this was going to be my only shot. I ran quietly in my sneakers down the hall and onto the stairs, half expecting to see someone at the bottom. There was no one. I took two stairs at a time but slowed when I realized the door was open. At the bottom, I peeked out only to see the back of a police uniform only a few feet away. I tiptoed across the entryway and opened the door to the store quietly as I could, still in plain view if the cop outside were to turn around. The door opened with a slight creak. I didn't look to see if the cop heard but headed straight for the front door. It had a deadbolt lock and a regular knob that had to be turned.

The moment my hand touched the latch, I heard a voice shout from behind, 'Hey, kid! Hold it.'

I ignored him and turned the latch. Heavy shoes came running across the room toward me. The latch clicked opened. The cop was only a few feet away. The door had to be opened inward. There wasn't time or space. I turned and threw the bag of clothes at him. His arms went up to block them. I turned the knob, pulled the door open and shot out, pulling it behind me. The cop grabbed the door before it was fully closed. I let go and ran for the avenue.

I heard him lurch out after me. 'Hold it, kid! Damn it!'

I opened up, ignoring an oncoming car and ran across the street, the median grass strip, the street again. I heard the lumbering footsteps coming behind me. There was no way he could catch me. I stretched out even more, racing up the street and into the first alley. No one made the turn after me. The cop would go for his car. I figured I could run to the end of that block before he could get his car started. If it was faced away from the avenue, I could run to the next cross alley another block away. I went for it.

There was a distant screeching of tires. They were turning around. I was across the next street and heading for the mid block cross alley. I turned up it, away from Sammy's. A car engine raced. Tires squealed but they were farther away. I had an idea. I reversed direction and headed back toward the avenue. The car was two blocks away, heading north. I was running south. I paused at the street above the avenue and looked out. There wasn't a living thing in sight. I crossed over and down the alley half a block above the avenue. I turned right, away from Sammy's, running parallel to the avenue. The next block was a main North South drag that went down past the park. My goal was to reach the woods and the railroad there. They'd need a bunch of cops to catch me once I got into that labyrinth of trees, tracks, sheds and gullies. Best, I could get back across the tracks to the wooden wall at the end of Sammy's street and see what was going on there, watch to see if they'd leave. I needed my money and passbook.

The bridge over the train tracks was only two blocks away. I neither heard nor saw anyone as I raced ahead. There was an opening where bums and delinquents squeezed through to get down onto the tracks. I jumped over the concrete rail and dropped onto the steep dirt incline, sliding halfway down before I could grab a bush and stop myself.

It was a chance to rest. I crawled under the bridge and lay back on the dirt. A few feet away, someone lay still. He stunk of wine and filth. It took my eyes a few seconds to accustom themselves to the low light and see that the man was staring at me.

I slid down the slope toward the tracks but stayed above them among the stubby trees along the hill. I took my time and walked along the incline, holding onto bushes and trees to keep from slipping. Soon, I spotted the weathered wood of Sammy's dead end street's wall above me. I struggled up to it.

Through a crack between the rotting lumber, I saw a policeman standing in front of the side doorway of Sammy's house. Sammy stood dejected behind him. Every once in a while he turned to speak to someone inside. It was a few moments before I realized he was handcuffed to the door handle.

Rage fired out of my gut into my chest. I was tempted to break through the rotted fence and free my lover. Common sense cooled the urge but not my anger. Sammy hadn't done anything wrong. He was just protecting someone he loved from evil men who were out to do him harm. I hadn't broken any laws therefore there was no illegality. My commitment was a civil matter, not criminal. The lawyer had explained that quite well. I hoped they merely wanted to hang on him for questioning when they didn't find me.

The patrol car didn't come back for quite a while. I didn't know for sure how long as my watch was back in Sammy's room. All I had was the clothes on my back and about seven dollars and change. During the wait, the rage in me turned again toward my father. Unless I could get back into the house and get my money and passbook, my escape was coming to an end. My options were down to none. I had nowhere to stay, little for food or transportation. I had to control the urge to scream.

The cop and detective got out of the car and spoke to Sammy who wiped an arm across his face. He was crying. He gesticulated frantically, waving his free arm about. His aunt came out with a cardboard box, put it on the curb by the police car then went back inside. Sammy turned to her as she went, begging. She reappeared quickly carrying another box. Sammy fell to a sitting position, his head falling between his knees. One of the policemen opened the cruiser's trunk and loaded the boxes in. Out came another. Sammy's aunt tossed it into the vehicle's trunk then stood in front of Sammy, waving a finger over his head, obviously very angry. Sammy looked up and said something, a supplication. She went inside and closed the door. A policeman unlocked the cuff from the doorknob and led Sammy to the back door of the car and inside. His aunt had thrown him out! I was incredulous. How could she do that? Where were they taking him? I punched the fence with all my might. It was stronger than it appeared. Pain shot through my hand. There was blood on my knuckles. I fell to the ground and cried in frustration.

My stupid son-of-a-bitch father had ruined another life. He'd left me with no other options. My life was over. His soon would be too.

I immediately begin planning what I'd do.

First, I had to get to the house but had all day to do so. I wouldn't be able to get in until they were well asleep, around midnight. I could walk the entire way, come in from above. I knew the way.

I walked along the ridge of the hill that abutted the houses above the tracks. I recognized the house of Frank, the older teen who had taken me in as a runaway then stolen all my money and tossed me out. When I reached the bridge, the urge to pee hit me so I watered down the nearby bushes. Zipped up, I climbed up onto the street above and headed north, right into the huge negro section on the west side of the city. It was still quite early. Hardly anyone was on the street. The traffic was light. No one seemed to notice me. I noticed no one.

Though occasionally distracted by the throbbing pain in my hand, my mind was planning, lamenting, then planning. There was no doubting what had to be done. There was no other choice. The only unsure aspect was that slim possibility of being able to kill the man and get away clean. After what had happened shortly before, I knew I'd be the immediate prime suspect and be sought after with far more interest than a couple of cops dragged along by a private detective. My picture would be in the newspaper, probably on the front page. I wouldn't be able to go anywhere in public. No one would for even a moment consider hiding me. That would be criminal. I would be a criminal, a murderer.

No, my death had to follow his. It was the only way.

By the time people started coming out of their houses, I was at the large park with the zoo inside where my grandfather had brought me many times, where the negro families gathered, where Freddy met his girl friend. I sat under a tree and stared out at the green before me. It was my favorite color, the green of fresh grass. Why had I been born with such a horrible father. Even Stewart with his violent, overbearing uncle was better off than me. Of course, he was heterosexual. Who knows what his fag hating uncle would have inflicted on him were he to have been a queer like me.

Martin was sort of like me but he had a great father who loved him and probably would continue to do so even if he knew of Martin's desires. Bobby was better off than me. He didn't have a father to worry about. Philip's father, though he wasn't around his son that much, did spend some time with him like when they made model airplanes together. Louis' father was a jerk but at least he was jerky in a nice way, always wanting Louis to play baseball with him. Why did mine have to do these terrible things to me? What did he get out of it? Maybe he wanted me to kill him. Did he think I'd accept all this and not eventually want it to end?

I bought a hot dog, potato chips and a soda off a man pushing a heavy wagon around the asphalted park roads. He was sweating and dripped onto my bun after taking it out of the warmer. Getting sick at that point wasn't anything for me to be concerned about. By that time the next day, my body would be cold.

I wandered around the park but avoided the zoo for fear of being recognized by someone. The afternoon crowds weren't there yet so I was alone for the most part. I remembered a stream near the far side and went to it to dunk my hand in the cold water. It stung but did relieve some of the pain.

As I squatted by the gurgling water, I realized that the tension was gone. The decision had been made. A definitive end to my trials was in sight. To be sure there was no happiness in me but neither was there any angst. I sat under another tree and took a nap, falling asleep within minutes, waking up an hour or two later quite relaxed.

There were people around, families, couples of all ages. This was the white section. There were no negroes to be seen. I thought about Freddy. How would he take what was to happen? He'd understand. He knew me better than anyone. It would have been nice to write him a letter but there was no way to be sure he'd receive it.

He would be hurt. His mother too. But they had each other. They'd be okay. My mother would be over me before the funeral. My father's death would be harder for her. I hoped she'd suffer as much as possible for not coming to my aid, for not protecting her son as mothers are supposed to do.

I started north again, following a road I knew came out well up the hill from my parent's house. I planned what I'd do. Entrance could be either by finding the basement window unlocked or breaking out a window pane in the back door. The former would be better though I doubted anyone behind three doors and a stairwell would hear the shattering glass.

I'd use the back stairs. They were closer to the dressing room where my father kept his automatic pistol under his socks in the right side drawer and the full clip under handkerchiefs on the other side. I'd played with it a couple of times so knew how to load and cock it, even how to take off the safety. I'd never fired it but expected that would be easy enough.

He had to know why he was going to die. I wanted, needed to tell him all the reasons. If he tried to jump me, I would shoot him in the legs. That would be painful. I'd always fantasized torturing him before dealing the final blow. Mother would probably call the police so there wouldn't be a lot of time.

If she tried to stop me, I'd shoot her in the leg. She deserved to die too but I didn't think I could do that. The leg was another matter.

I planned exactly what I'd say, picking major incidents, major insults, major sufferings. As the damage mounted, it seemed more and more appropriate that he should suffer before he died. A shot in the knee was supposed to be particularly painful. I'd do both.

The sun was going down when I arrived in the residential area at the top of the long hill above my parent's house. I was hungry. The two hot dog meal was long used up. There'd been no breakfast. However, there were no eateries of any kind near enough by. The hunger would have to be endured.

I considered how best to end my own life. A shot to the head seemed the most certain but was probably messy. In movies I'd seen, a bullet in the heart would drop a man immediately, I worried that the recoil might re-direct the bullet but decided that would be impossible. It would have cleared the end of the barrel well ahead of any possible movement.

I walked down the hill that eventually went behind the house. The former pig pen behind the barn would be a good place to hide until midnight. When I got to my parent's property, I could see Benson's a block and a half ahead, still open. There'd be food there. But the detective may have handed out photos in the area. I went to the pig pen, climbed over the wall and went to the front to check out the house.

Lights were on in the living room but it seemed unoccupied. The kitchen was dark but they'd probably have finished eating earlier. Neither my parent's bedroom nor my father's office were visible. After peeing in the far corner, I settled in and tried to nap. That wasn't going to happen. My mind was battling me for my own survival.

Could I commit the crime and get away? Perhaps I could make it look like a burglary but then I'd have to kill them both. I knew I couldn't do that. Were I to run afterward, would my mother tell the police who had done it? I could take the gun with me and only kill myself if I was about to be caught. The problem with that was where I'd go, how I'd feed myself. And, of course, there'd be the publicity, my picture in the paper. No, this night was to be my last.

With that settled, I was able to briefly fall asleep. Then, mosquitoes found me. They were merciless. Swatting them away, I climbed out of the pig pen and walked back down the yard and into the corn field at the bottom of the neighbor's property. I tried to eat an ear. It was still small. The kernels were hardly that. I stayed hungry.

Beside the corn field was a badminton court and a screened in one room frame building where they had small parties. The door was unlocked. I went inside and sat in a cushioned chair. Again, I fell asleep, this time for quite a while.

I awakened suddenly. Who knows why? The crickets were chirping away but they were the only sign of life. Only street lights were turned on. I got up quickly, my mission immediately clear in my mind. My hand felt better, ready to hold a gun, fire it.

After crossing into my parent's property, I checked out the basement window. It took some pressure but finally opened in. I slid under and into the upper basement. It was pitch black but I knew my way from having cleaned it out so many times. It needed it again. My feet slid on the dusty floor where it tilted down toward the three stairs into the boiler room. For some reason, the clubroom door to that area was locked. I had to walk through the shop and into the clubroom from the other end. The stairs were of concrete so made no noise.

In the kitchen, I considered which stairway to take to the second floor. The back stairs were closer to the dressing room where the gun was but I had to open a door and a noisy gate. I opted for the front stairs which I knew, if climbed along the side by the railing, didn't creak.

Hunger stopped me by the refrigerator. I looked inside. There was some cheese. I ate two slices, feeling silly but mischievous doing so. They'd perform an autopsy on my body the next day and wonder why it was there.

The floor in the front hall squeaked in front of the dining room. I stopped, listened, then walked closer to the wall. I knew that the back hall floor was noisy so climbed up onto the wooden bench built into the curve of the stairway then over the railing onto the oak steps. They didn't make a sound. I tried to find the words that would get my mother out of the bedroom so I could be alone with my father. I wouldn't let her see the gun. Yes, I'd carefully awaken her first and ask her to let me speak to him. Then, I'd lock her out. I could lock the door to the dressing room when I entered.

Once at the top of the stairs, I stayed close to the wall to avoid creaking flooring and walked along the stairwell into the back hallway, past their bathroom and into the dressing room. The dresser was on my right. The gun was where it always had been under my father's woolen socks. The clip, comfortably weighty with its bullets, was in another drawer under a pile of handkerchiefs. The drawers opened and closed with a soft whoosh.

I slowly slipped the clip into the butt of the automatic. There was a reassuring click when it reached home. I pulled back the slide to cock the weapon then let it glide slowly back into position. I found the safety and pushed it up. A shiver went through me but I felt resolute, ready. Soon, my misery would be over forever.

I walked through the open bedroom door. The streetlight outside illuminated the room just enough through the drawn curtains that I could see that there was only one person in the bed. I approached cautiously. It was my father. My mother wasn't with him. Had they fought? Had she left him over me? Or was she just in the bathroom? Her side of the bed was messed up just enough that she might have been there. I backed up quickly to the door from the hall to the dressing room, quietly closed it and pressed in the button to lock it. I walked around the bed and closed and locked the other door. Then, I returned to the dressing room and opened my mother's closet door. A light inside came on revealing her clothes, shoes, coats. She was in the house, but where? I walked through most of it and hadn't seen a sign of her anywhere. Had she fallen asleep on the living room sofa? She'd done that before.

Whatever, I had my father to myself. I was ready. Best not to wait and lose my resolve.

Back in the bedroom at the foot of the bed, I quickly went over what I would do and say. Looking at him in front of me, the hatred, the fury built. This was the son-of-a-bitch who had made my life impossible, who had caused me misery time and again, who hated me for my homosexuality which he may well have caused. No more!

I stepped around the corner of the bed, took the gun by the barrel, raised it and brought the butt down hard on his ankle under the sheets.

He made a muffled grunt then sat quickly upright and reached for his leg. I hit him again.

'Aaaahhh!' he shouted. 'What?'

I stepped back, ran around the bed and turned on the light.

His face remained contorted but his eyes opened wide, then wider when he saw his automatic raised and pointed at him. 'You crazy?'

'Shut up!' I ordered. 'Hurts, doesn't it but it's nothing like all the times you hurt me.'

'Gimme that, you stupid little bastard! Give it?'

'Fuck you! You're the bastard but not any more. And you're the stupid bastard. You thought you could just fuck over me and fuck over me and I wouldn't give it back to you one day. Well, this is the day, you son-of-a-bitch! But first, you're gonna listen to me, for the first time in your stinking life, you are going to listen to me.'

He started out of the bed. 'Give me the damn...'

'Henry! Who's in there? Open the door!' It was my mother outside the door to the dressing room.'

'Go away, mother. We're talking. I'll let you in when we're done.'

'Malcolm! Malcolm! Oh my dear God. Let me in.'

'Sandra, call the police. He's got my gun. Call the police!'


'Mother, just go away. We're just talking.' I turned back to my father. 'Now you just shut the fuck up. No one can help you now so just listen to what I say, you son-of-a-bitch. Remember the bicycle? I'll bet you thought that was really funny, didn't you.'

'It was a Christmas present, you jerk!'

'It was a kick in the balls, you jerk! You think I'm stupid? I'm smarter than you, better than you!'

'You're a freak! Gimme the damn gun!'

'Remember Camp McFarlane? I was having sex there. I got fucked by eight boys one afternoon and it felt great.'

'So now you're proud of being a faggot?'

'You made me one, you jerk. I'm your creation! But you know what? Everything we said about that son-of-a-bitch Washburn was true. He was a rapist. I never did anything with him. He raped boys and always got away with it because his father was a senator and you made it possible for him to keep on raping boys by taking all that money so you're a rapist too, you rapist son-of-a-bitch!

'Give me the damn gun, boy!'

A key turned in the lock of the front bedroom door. We both looked. Mother rushed in. I turned the gun on her.

'Get out of here! This is between him and me, not you. Get out!'

'Malcolm, dear?'

'Damn it mother, don't call me dear!'

She appeared confused. She stopped.

'Malcolm, oh, please, please give me that gun before someone gets hurt.'

'I'm not going to hurt him, mother. I'm going to kill him. It's the only way to stop him from hurting me. Now just go away so I don't have to hurt you too.'

She looked about to faint. Her hands went to her head.

'You know what he's done to me. Do you know what they did in that Nazi hospital? How that Nazi Hein put me and the others in their electric chair and gave us shocks that hurt so bad we passed out then hurt for the rest of the day and all that 'cause he said it would make us normal? And it didn't. It just scared everybody so much they'd say anything so he would do it again. But he did it anyway, again and again 'cause he's a Nazi and he liked to hurt people just like he did in the Nazi concentration camps, just like this son-of-a-bitch did to me all my life. Remember, do this and then you can do that but then I couldn't 'cause he always lied.' There were tears in my eyes but rage kept me from crying.

'Well, he's not going to do it any more!

Mother shook her head. 'Malcolm, dear Malcolm. You're right. I'm so sorry. This is all my fault. No, he'll never stop. I knew he never would but I just, well, I don't know. I'm so sorry.'

'So, just get out and let me do this. Please, go away.'

My father started in, 'He admitted that he let eight boys fuck him in the ass all at one time and he liked it. You hear that, he's..'

'Shut up, Henry!' she screamed. 'No, Malcolm, you mustn't do this. It's all my fault. I should have taken you away from him years ago. No, the responsibility is mine. Please give me the gun. I'll do it.'

I don't know who was more shocked by her words.

'Sandra, what?' My father, who had walked to the back of the bed, paused, staring strangely at my mother who was standing up and holding out her hand.

I tried to grasp what was happening. It didn't seem possible she was serious. She'd always done anything he asked, even when it hurt me.

'Malcolm, it's my fault. You just go away and I'll do it. Then you'll be free of him. You can live with my sister and everything will be better, I promise. I'll tell them everything, all he's done, everything I didn't do, my lies, everything. Just please give me the gun and let me do it. I promise I will.'

She stepped toward me, her hand out, her eyes darting between me and my father. I backed toward the wall, the gun still pointed at my father, torn between believing her or taking her words as an attempt to protect him. But she hadn't been sleeping with him.

She took another step. I didn't see my father's charge until it was too late. He grabbed at the gun with both hands, squeezing my swollen knuckles. Pain shot up my arm. I turned hard and lunged my shoulder into his, trying to hit him in the face while yanking the gun down. My fist got him in the neck below his ear. He fell backward, his left hand still gripping my right holding the gun.

Mother reached in with both hands and jerked the gun upward, twisting my fingers. The pain was too much. I lost my grip. She wrenched the pistol away.

My father hit me on the cheek bone with his fist, knocking me partially senseless for a second. He rolled over in an attempt to get on top of me. I kept us going and pushed away, desperately looking for my mother who I was afraid might just shoot me.

'Stop it! Stop it!' she screamed.

I didn't know who she was yelling at but was afraid it was me.

My father tore my shirt sleeve off trying to drag me back. He blocked the arm I pushed at his face then smacked me open handed across mine. He grabbed my bare arm and pulled me to him at the same time as he ran his knee into my gut. I swung at him wildly. I was terrified of mother who continued screaming at us or me, I didn't know who.

I tried again to look at her while at the same time escape my father's clawing hands. He reached around the back of my neck and gripped my shirt just below the collar. His knee got me again, this time in the stomach. The pain was excruciating. I doubled up. He yanked me around and got an arm about my neck. He hit me hard in the side of the head. I flailed my body side to side trying to get loose but he locked his other arm on my neck too, cutting off my air.

Mother screamed, 'Let him go, Henry! Now!' She was yelling at him, not me.

'I'm, just,' he rolled on top of me, 'got to..'

I rammed an elbow into his ribs. He grunted. I did it again, harder. His grip loosened.

'You little faggot!' he grunted.

'Henry!' screamed my mother again. 'Get off him now!'

'Shut up, woman!'

When he shouted, he tried to shift his body to the side and use one arm to stop mine. I twisted hard and came around with a fist into his groin.

'Ooowww!' he growled and yanked on my neck.

I elbowed him repeated in the ribs though with less force each time. I hadn't had a breath for a while and was losing consciousness. In desperation, I reached for his balls. With only pajamas to protect them, they were an easy grab. I squeezed with all the strength that was left in me. He squeezed back. It felt like he was breaking everything inside my neck and throat. I yanked hard. He reached for my hand, losing his angle above. I punched at his face. It wasn't a very hard punch, just all I had, but it got him someplace hard. I was too woozy to tell. He let go of my throat and tried to free his balls. Gasping for air, I let go and rolled free.

My father rose up on his knees and glared at me.

'Henry, stop now, please!' shouted my mother.

My father raised his arm with a cocked fist. I watched him, too weak to dodge a blow.

What sounded like a clap of very close by thunder deafened me briefly. My father fell sharply backward. His feet shot up in the air. His eyes stared at the ceiling then seemed to try to find my mother.

'Henry!' she screamed frantically.

I barely heard the gun hit the floor beside me.

Mother rushed around me, almost falling over my leg and dropped down beside her husband. 'Malcolm, call an ambulance! Hurry!'

I just stared at the two of them, sucking air into my starved lungs. There was no way I was going to call anyone.

'Die, motherfucker,' I muttered under my breath.

Mother looked back at me. Had she heard the hardly uttered words, read my thoughts? At first, her look was of desperation, then it softened to sorrow, possibly resignation.

I sat up and cried in erratic gasps, certainly not for the man on the carpet in front of me. A great load had been lifted off me. The tears might even have been of joy.

Henry Lloyd was dead in seconds. The bullet had gone through his heart. An ambulance would not have been of any help.

Everything seemed a bit surreal. The smell of gunpowder was still in the air. My father's bare feet lay nearby. I poked one with my foot. It was true. The son-of-a-bitch was dead.

When I moved to sit more comfortably against the back of the bed, there was the pistol lying on the floor. There was something I was supposed to be doing with it. I focused hard on the gun, what? I reached out for it. It felt very heavy.

I remembered the part of my plan that ended my life too. I was supposed to turn the gun on myself, end my own misery. But, since I hadn't killed my father, it seemed, theoretically, that there shouldn't be any problems for me. He had assaulted me, my mother had stopped him. I closed my eyes and tried to assemble my thoughts, decide what I should be doing at that point.

The son-of-a-bitch couldn't do anything to me anymore, but what about Dr. Hein? He wanted me back, had some kind of commitment. Returning to Green Haven was unthinkable. However, with no one in the family to push my commitment, there wasn't any real reason for me to be sent back. My mother would certainly sign a release paper should it be required, or my aunt if mother was unable due to what had just occurred. My planned suicide was unnecessary, I hoped.

I looked down at the gun. Fingerprints! I'd handled the gun, loaded the clip. I could unload it. For a moment, I couldn't figure out how to release the clip. I found the button by pressing every projection. The clip fell out. I put the gun down and held on to the clip. I'd say that I didn't want the thing to be used again, that I hated guns, which, in reality, I did.

After a few minutes, mother crawled over my father's legs to me. 'Are you all right, dea.., Malcolm?'

I nodded. She kissed me on the side of my head.

'I better call the police.' She got up and went to the phone beside the bed.

Once again, I kicked his foot. 'Shouldn't have messed with me so much, you son-of-a-bitch.'

The police arrived in less than ten minutes. After she'd hung up, I'd considered rehearsing with her what she should say but realized that, in her state, it would probably just have muddled things up.

I stayed where I was, sitting by the bed. I needed the police to see me as injured. I was, but not as badly as I planned to put on. My father possibly had more injuries than I though my throat was very sore, swallowing painful. My stomach felt like I'd swallowed a bottle of acid.

The first policeman through the bedroom door, after a quick look at the corpse, noticed the gun beside me and the clip in my hand. He seemed unsure what to do. His partner, however, immediately nudged the gun away from me with his foot and pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket. He gently took the clip out of my hand then asked, 'Are you okay?'

I put my hand to my throat and whispered, 'I can't talk.'

'Okay, just relax, an ambulance is on the way. They'll take care of you. You're not shot, are you?'

I waved my finger. He noticed my banged up, swollen hand. To his younger partner, he said, 'Go see if there's any ice in the refrigerator.' To me, he said, 'C'mon, let's get you someplace else.'

He helped me up. I let him. I took a last look at my father but suppressed the desire to spit on him. The son-of-a-bitch looked like a nasty bastard even dead on the floor. I still hated him even though he was no longer a threat.

The policeman asked, 'Which is your room?'

I pointed down the hall. He took me there. I've always wondered if the cop spotted the surprise on my face when I saw the slept-in bed. It was immediately clear that mother had been there when I arrived. I sat on the bed. It felt good. I was home again, for how long, who knew?

I was left alone for a couple of minutes then another officer came in, a heavy set older man with a rumpled cap. He carried ice cubes in a dish towel. He sat beside me.

'Here, let me see your hand.'

I held it out. He gently took hold of my wrist and placed my hand on my knee, the ice wrapped in the towel on top.

'This'll make it feel better. How's your throat, Malcolm?'

I turned my left hand up and down a couple of times.

'I need you to talk to me a little. Can you?'

I shrugged my shoulders.

'Okay, do the best you can. Tell me what happened.'

He pulled out a worn leather bound pad and pencil, the point of which he licked with his tongue.

'I tried to talk to my father,' I whispered, all the while trying to figure what my mother was telling them elsewhere. 'He started yelling at me.' I put my left hand to my throat and whispered, 'Hurts.'

'Okay, okay. Let's do it this way. I'll ask you some questions, you nod your head or use your good hand to say yes or no. That work for you?'

I made a short wave of my hand.

He asked, 'Did your father hit you?'

That was simple enough. I nodded shallowly.

'Did you hit him?'

I nodded again and whispered, 'After.'

'Did he hit your mother?'

I shook my head.

'Who got the gun?'

That was tricky, too tricky. I faked crying and leaned my head down to my knees.

'C'mon, son, I need you to talk to me.'

I hit upon a strategy. I would work if mother told the truth. She only knew what she had seen. It would fit in with what I planned to say. I sat up slowly, wiping non-existent tears from my eyes then running my sleeve across my mouth to wet it.

'Okay, now. Who got the gun?'

I pointed at myself.

'Before or after he hit you?'

'Before,' I whispered.

'Why'd you do that?'

'So he wouldn't hit me. I wanted just to talk but he always got mad and started hitting me or something.' I spoke slowly. My throat really did hurt.

'Did you load it?'

I nodded yes.

'If you just wanted to talk, why'd you do that?'

'If, if he tried to hurt me, I was going to shoot something near him, make him stop.'

'And if he didn't stop?'

I shrugged my shoulders.

'Were you gonna shoot him?'

I shook my head.

'But then you did shoot him, didn't you?'

I gave him a nasty look and shook my head.

'Then who shot him?'

I lowered my head again and pretended to cry.

'But it wasn't you?'

I shook my head.

To someone else, he said, 'Why don't you stay with him for a while, Walsh.'

My interrogator was replaced by another, much younger officer who sat silently in the chair at my desk.

Moments later, two white suited men came in carrying medical bags. For a moment, I was worried they were from Green Haven but they were an ambulance crew there to check me over.

The one looked at my hand and asked, 'When did you do this?'

'This morning,' I answered truthfully. I figured nothing could swell up that much in less than half an hour.

They looked at my neck, felt it. I winced. They had me take off my shirt and looked me over front and back then did the same with my pants. They were gone in less than ten minutes. I put my pants and undershirt back on slowly, happy that no one had yet asked me why I was in my clothes in the middle of the night, especially when my bed had obviously been slept in.

There was, I calculated, plenty to make them suspicious about what had really happened. I wondered what mother had told, was telling them. Did they know I'd recently escaped from a mental hospital, that there were police searching for me? I began to doubt my decision not to complete my plan. But, after what mother had done, what she had said, it would have been almost impossible to turn the gun on myself.

One of the ambulance attendants brought me a glass of warm orange juice. 'Take a sip.'

I took a sip. It felt good, tasted better. My hunger came back in a flash though I wasn't sure what I could have comfortably eaten. I drank it all. The man nodded approval.

While I'd been drinking, a suited man came in and watched us. He looked vaguely familiar.

He smiled and said, 'You sure have grown since last time I saw you.'

I couldn't place him.

'You don't remember me, do you? Well, I sure remember you. I told my kid about you. I told a lot of people about you and what you did that day, hell, what both you and your friend Freddy did for each other.'

Then I knew. 'You were at the hospital that day when they hurt Freddy.'

He sat beside me. 'Yeah,' he sighed, 'and from what I learned about you and your father, I was worried it would come to something like this one day but your mother tells us she did it, not you. That right?'

I hung my head and didn't answer.

'Well, we're gonna know pretty quick. There's a man gonna be up here in a few minutes. He's gonna put some wax on your hand. He'll be real careful since it's probably painful right now. When did you hurt it?'

'This morning.'

'What happened?'

I slipped and banged it on a board when I fell down.'

He looked it over. 'You sure hit it hard. Sure you didn't hit something with it, like when you get mad about something?'

'No, it was an accident.'

'Hmmm. Well, anyhow, what he's gonna do won't hurt none.'

I'd read about the paraffin test that checked for gunpowder residue and was sure that was what they'd be doing. It would definitively clear me of shooting my father, but prove my mother did.

He asked me what happened and, 'I better write this down so I don't forget anything.' His pad was a small copy book with pages torn out. He wrote with a fountain pen just like I'd used in grade school.

I told him the same as I'd told the older officer but went on, basically telling what really happened though eliminating the intention to kill my father. At the end I stated, 'Mother shot him to protect me.'

'How come you had the clip in your hand. Why'd you take it out?'

'I don't like guns. I just, didn't want it to work any more.' The words sounded strange coming out, I wondered how this detective took it.

'You sure you weren't just putting your fingerprints all over it?'

'No. I just wanted to take it apart.'

'And you knew how.'

'I played with it when I was a kid. And I've seen guns like it in the movies. I hate guns.'

A fat man came in with a small doctor's bag and placed warm wax across the back of my hand and along my thumb and forefinger. After a few moments, he peeled it off and put it into a wax paper bag.

The detective stood up. 'Why don't you see if you can get some sleep and we'll talk again tomorrow. That be okay?'

I answered with a shrug.

He motioned the young officer out of the room. 'Turn off the light?' he asked.

I shrugged again.

He flipped down the switch and pulled the door closed behind him.

I lay back on the bed, my bed. I wondered what time it was, where they had my mother, what she had told them. Had she continued to try and protect me?

I thought back over all I'd said to the policemen and tried to recall back years earlier to what the former street cop now detective had done and said. My memories depicted him as friendly, sympathetic to Freddy and me. But that would have been a good tactic then as now. Get my confidence, get the truth, find out what really happened, catch the bad guy.

Strangely enough, I fell asleep, possibly because I was out from under the horrible weight of my father's oppression but more likely it was due to sheer exhaustion.

Mother awakened me in the morning. She carried a plate with bacon, eggs, toast and a large glass of orange juice, my favorite breakfast.

'How do you feel, dear, I'm sorry, Malcolm?'

Her eyes were red, swollen. She was trying to look pleasant but the sadness was all over her. Her mouth and shoulders drooped. After putting the tray on my chair and pulling it up to the bed, she sat beside me with her hands between her legs. I hugged her. She hugged me back. We stayed like that, silently, for quite a while.

'Finally, she said, 'I think your breakfast's gotten cold. Would you like me to make you some more?'

I looked into her eyes. They were pleading for something.

'I love you, mother,' I said softly.

'Oh, I love you too, Malcolm. I really do. I'm so, so sorry for all that's happened to you. I should have taken..'

'Please, mother, that's all over now. I don't wanna talk about that.'

'I told them I did it so he wouldn't hurt you again. I tried to get him to stop but he just wouldn't. I had to stop him.'

'Mother,' I hugged her, 'let's not talk about that, please.'

'I didn't tell them what you said, about what you wanted to do.'

I hugged her tightly. She really was sorry and now it didn't matter. We could be mother and son.


The aftermath of that night was somewhat chaotic and, for me, fraught with frightening prospects, Green Haven being the foremost. What saved me was the love of Aunt Martha who took me in two days later when mother fell apart and was taken to a small mental hospital just outside the city. My aunt was supposed to have me but, as always, knew Freddy's mother, and, of course, Freddy, were the ones I needed at the time.

The morning after my father's end, my lawyer arrived at the house while I was upstairs with my mother eating breakfast. He had to push through a dozen reporters who were in the driveway hoping for a glimpse and some kind of statement. The police officer who was watching over the 'crime scene' let him in. He'd found out what had happened by hearing about it on his car radio. He got the police to chase the reporters off out property and facilitated an easier time for both of us. Two days later, after speaking to Dr. Cooper, he assured me Green Haven wasn't the least bit interested in becoming involved in what had happened and wouldn't have taken me back should I have tried to get in. When I insisted he look into getting Jonathan out or I would, he connected me with another lawyer who was adamantly against what Green Haven was doing with teens. Within days, Jonathan was living with a relative. I was given his phone number and spoke to him. We hoped to get together one day but it never happened.

The only tense moment regarding my father's death came when the officer who'd last interviewed me asked about the nasty bruise marks on my father's ankle.

'I think I stepped on it when we fell down once. He cursed me when I did.'

The detective looked at me for a moment with an expression more pensive than suspicious. That was the last time it came up. I've always suspected he knew there was more to what had happened but decided to let it go for some reason. Perhaps he was sympathetic, maybe he figured he wasn't going to get any admissions from me. I like to think it was the former.

A few weeks later, there was an article in the newspaper about Dr. Hein who had disappeared when a Nazi hunter went looking for him at the hospital. The article had his photo. It was the last I heard of him. The young lawyer told me Mr. Coulter had taken off too. He suspected both were being protected by the government in exchange for some intelligence they had provided.

I was questioned by the police twice more, giving them the same version of what had happened as, apparently, my mother gave. There was a hearing of some kind in front of a man I was told was not really a judge. My father's death was ruled a justifiable homicide.

Mother never fully recovered from that terrible though liberating night and spent most of her time in a nursing home where she fretted about me even when I visited her and assured her that all was well. She never mentioned my father to me though he was all she spoke about when her sister came by.

I lived with Aunt Martha through high school which I finished up in three years at a non-sectarian downtown institution with a swimming pool where we all swam delightfully naked. One teen the next form up from mine - they had 'forms' rather than grades or years - figured what I liked quickly when I ogled his long dong in the pool a couple of times. In the physical education teacher's storeroom, he fucked me standing up or lying across a football blocking dummy every two or three weeks until he graduated.

There was no more hustling as my new guardian placed limits on my hours away from the house and insisted I toe the line as she dictated it. I did get to Bobby's often and got my jollies enough there that there was no urge to deal with. Freddy occasionally plumbed my innards too.

Aunt Martha received a monthly check to cover my costs and, at last, a decent weekly allowance for me. She was also given a lump sum to build a two story, three room addition on to her humble home providing bedrooms for all.

After a week of uncertainty and concern, Sammy appeared at Bobby's having run away from a foster home where he'd been placed when his aunt refused to have such a 'disgusting' boy in her home. The teacher we'd gone out with together negotiated a deal with the foster parent, who was only interested in the income, for Sammy to stay with her Monday through Thursday nights, going to school from her house, and the rest of the time with him though he really was sleeping at Bobby's. When he turned sixteen, he just stayed at Bobby's where he worked part time in the kitchen.

Sammy was so apologetic and gracious with Freddy that he gradually lost the animosity he felt toward my lover. That's not to say they became great friends. Over the years they just managed to get along.

When it came time to go to college, Georgie managed to convince his mother to let him go to the state college near me. I went to a private university and Freddy to a state college for negroes. The three of us much of our free time together as we do to this day.

Freddy and I took complimentary courses that allowed us to eventually go into business together as an architectural firm. I did the esthetics, Freddy the structure. We never got rich but lived at least as economically well off as my parents had.

Georgie became a criminal lawyer and made twice as much as we did.

Bobby, however, did get rich when, at thirty-three, he sold his by then large specialty food plant and all it's recipes for over three million dollars, a ten percent chunk of which went to Aunt Martha for all the recipes and improvements she'd contributed over the years.

She invested it into a small flower shop which to this day is a fixture down the street from Edward's.

Bobby, who I'd introduced to Francois while we were still in high school, gradually took over the Frenchman's restaurant allowing him to retire. On top of that, he developed his own television cooking show that became quite popular, and provided him with a notoriety that got him into the tailored pants of some of the city's more attractive and well off young men.

Martin dropped out of college after two years to run a small one man remodeling company and have time to spend with his young boy friends. When things became less friendly toward boy lovers, he moved to Asia where he put together a commercial refrigeration company and has since raised a dozen or so boys he's taken off the streets, three of whom have gone to college.

Dickie finished college then went into business with his brother. When Martin left, he took on employees and is now a major sub-contractor on jobs we design. He is married with three wonderful daughters and five grand children.

Poor Philip didn't leave and didn't stop messing around with the young ones. He served two years in prison then, when caught again, put a gun to his head.

Louis went to MIT and is now a respected research scientist in Chicago.

Sammy and I have been living together as a sort of married couple since I graduated from college. He quit working some eleven years ago to become what he describes as a contented housewife.

Freddy had two children, one named Malcolm, with his teen sweetheart and now has six grand children.

Oh, Spike. I ran into him in a Gay bar twenty some years ago. Even Bobby didn't know. He was a counter salesman in an auto parts shop, the best job he could get with just ten years of school. He told me he almost married twice but finally decided just to lie to his coworkers rather than do something he was sure would have ended in disaster. And then, he finally fucked me though only after I screwed him first.

Now, I suppose some of you are wondering how I could settle into a quiet monogamous relationship after such a wild youth. Well, Bobby could tell you about the room I have at Francois' old place and the drawer kept stocked with condoms, but he probably wouldn't, unless, of course, you're a good looking twenty something with a sizable dong.

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