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cherokee morning song

Cherokee Morning Song

Chapter Fifteen

For the first time in his life Jeremy was making plans to move out of his parent's home. It was a strange feeling for him knowing that he was leaving the home that he loved, yet he was looking forward to the beginning of something new. "Promise that you won't become a recluse?" Annie had asked. "I know it has been difficult for you, but you have to make new friends there."

"I'll try," Jeremy had promised. "It won't be easy, but I know I have to at least try. Mom and Dad are going to Norman with me tomorrow to look for an apartment. Would you like to go with us?"

"No, I promised Molly that I would take her shopping for new school clothes," Annie said. "That poor girl is growing up so fast, and Mitch is too stingy to buy her a decent wardrobe for school."

"What about Scott and Cody?" Jeremy asked. "Do they have school clothes?"

"Both boys are working now and bought their own," Annie said. "Besides, it's different for boys than girls. Boys can get by with a few pairs of jeans and a few shirts. Girls notice what other girls wear. Molly is at that age that other kids can be very callous if they don't fit in. Scott seemed to understand this. He tried to give me $100 to take his sister shopping for school clothes."

"Why didn't he just give the money to his mother to take Molly shopping?"

"He knew that if Mitch found out about it he would have taken at least part of it and given it to that damn church of his."

"I'll give you some money to help. I have plenty from the trust fund from my grandparents and from my college fund. I won't need it all since I have a scholarship."

"No, I'll get the money from Mitch. For some reason, he's afraid of me."

"Scott said that his dad thinks you have some sort of power. He claims to be a Christian, but he still is afraid of what you might do to him."

"Maybe I do have powers," Annie said with a laugh that told Jeremy that she may indeed have some sort of power.

"I wouldn't doubt it," Jeremy said while wishing that some sort of power could have been used to save Blake. Suddenly a familiar sadness came over him.

"No, I don't have that kind of power," Annie said when she read the sadness on Jeremy's face.

"How long will it last?"

"Your sadness for the loss of Blake? It will never go away completely, but as I told you before you'll love again. While you're away for college try to enjoy the experience. Go to the football games and have fun like the other students."

Jeremy had planned to sleep most of the way on the drive from Tahlequah to Norman, but his excitement didn't allow that. He had never been to the Oklahoma City area and was surprised at how large and spread out the metropolitan area was. Norman, on the southern part of the metropolitan area, was a much larger than Tahlequah. Although Norman was part of the metropolitan area it had a college town atmosphere about it. Jeremy began to question his choice of leaving the security of home and going to college at NSU.

"Which apartments do you want to check first?" Allen's question brought Jeremy back to the task at hand.

"I guess it doesn't matter," Jeremy said.

"You may want to consider something close to campus," Nancy suggested. "It might be easier to ride your bike to class rather than fighting for parking."

"Should I look for a furnished apartment?" Jeremy asked.

"No, we'll buy you some furniture," Nancy said. "Most of the furniture in those furnished apartments is cheap and nasty. You'll be here for at least three years, and maybe longer if you stay here for your master's degree."

"And then what happens to the furniture?" Jeremy asked.

"You don't think you're moving back home do you?" Allen teased.

"When you're too old to wipe your own ass you'll want me back home," Jeremy teased.

"When I'm that old I won't care if my ass is wiped or not," Allen countered.

"Guys, that's enough of that ass wiping shit," Nancy scolded.

With that Allen and Jeremy cracked up.

The first apartment they looked at was nice from the outside, but once inside the carpets were dirty and the walls badly needed painting. Nancy ruled that one out immediately. They drove to the next apartment on their list. It had been recently been painted and the carpets had been shampooed. Nancy gave her cleanliness approval.

The apartment was more of what Jeremy was looking for. It was a one bedroom, but roomy. There were enough windows to allow for natural light. To Jeremy's surprise there was even a hookup for a washer and dryer. The other apartment had a common laundry room. The kitchen was small compared to his mother's kitchen at home, but he didn't expect to do much cooking anyway. His favorite thing about the apartment was the balcony that overlooked the park across the street.

"What do you think, Son?" Allen asked after Jeremy had inspected the apartment.

"I like it," Jeremy said giving his approval.

"Let's pay the deposit and then go to lunch, I'm hungry," Allen said.

"After lunch we need to go shopping for furniture," Nancy smiled with anticipation.

"Mom, Dad, I don't want to spend a lot of money on furniture that I will probably need for three years," Jeremy said. "I don't want to get expensive furniture that I won't need long. I'd be happy with just buying used furniture."

"Son, I think we can afford new furniture," Allen said. "A lot of the furniture stores have a room with dented and scratched furniture. Why don't we look there and see what bargains we can find?"

The dented and scratch room had most everything that Jeremy needed. Most of the scratches were hardly noticeable and could likely be buffed out. Those that couldn't didn't bother Jeremy. They also purchased a washer and dryer that were scratched. They weren't a matched pair, but Jeremy didn't care. They would be behind closed doors when not used. The furniture was to be delivered Friday, which meant another trip to Norman.

"What's your apartment like?" Scott asked as he and Jeremy were working out the next day.

"It's pretty nice," Jeremy admitted. "But, all I really needed was a place to live for while I get my degree. I'm going back Friday when they deliver the furniture and turn on the electricity and cable. Do you want to go down with me?"

"Sure I'll go," Scott readily agreed. "I'm off work Friday. I'll ask Mom after Dad goes to work. I'll just tell her you want me to go. She won't say no."

"I'll pick you up around eight," Jeremy said. "I don't have to be there when the electricity is turned on, and the furniture isn't scheduled to be turned on until early afternoon."

"Where will you workout when you move there?"

"I hadn't really thought about it. The university probably has a fitness center. Even NSU has one. If they don't I'll consider joining a gym."

"I'll miss coming over here and working out after you're gone."

"You can still come over and workout. I'll have Dad get a key made for you."

"Thanks, but it won't be the same. Besides, who would spot for me?"

"You could drag Dad's butt out here to workout with you. He needs to be working out anyway."

Jeremy paused for a minute as he was thinking, and he finally asked, "Scott, could I ask a favor of you?"

"You know you can."

"Mom and Dad think of you as their second son, you know."

"Yes, I know that."

"This will be first time since I was born that they will be alone. Would you spend some time with them? Bring Molly too. Mom thinks the world of her."

"You know I will. I'll be busy with football and work, but I promise I'll come over as often as I can. I'll talk to Molly about spending time with them too."

"Don't forget about Annie either. You know that she thinks the world of you as well as your brother and sister."

"Jeremy, you're scaring me. You sound like you're going away and not coming back"

"No, don't worry about me. I'll be back many weekends and on breaks. I plan to come back here to live after I graduate. The people I love are here."

"Wow this is cool," Scott exclaimed when Jeremy unlocked the door to the empty apartment.

"It will look better once the furniture is here," Jeremy said. "Go ahead and look around. I need to take a piss."

"This bedroom is larger than yours at home," Scott proclaimed as Jeremy came out of the bathroom.

"I think it is about the same size. It just looks bigger without furniture.

"What time will your furniture be here?"

"It is scheduled for early afternoon. They'll call my cell phone when they leave the store with it. We can drive around campus if you want, and then we'll get something to eat."

"Holy shit, look at that," Scott yelled when he saw Memorial Stadium. "I'd love to play before 85,000 screaming fans in there."

"Maybe you can. It would be great to have a good buddy down here."

"No, I already told you that I'm not good enough to play for the Sooners. Coach is trying to get me a scholarship at NSU. I have a good chance of getting to play there."

"You know that my parents and Annie provided a college fund for your tuition and room and board. I could get a two bedroom apartment and you could room with me for free. That way you would have plenty of extra money."

"Jeremy my friend, it isn't about tuition. I want to play football, and I know I can do that at NSU. Besides, I'm sure Molly will go to NSU and I need to be there to help her if she needs it."

"You know that Mom and Dad would do that. Mom already told her that she could live with them as soon as she turns eighteen."

"I know that, and I appreciate it. But, I have to be her big brother since Cody has become a carbon copy of Dad."

"Why don't we get carry out food and go back to the apartment," Jeremy suggested after they had seen most of the campus.

"That sounds good to me."

"How about KFC?" Jeremy asked as he pulled into the drive through.

"It's fine with me, now that you're already here."

"We can go someplace else if you don't want KFC."

"No, I like KFC. I was just giving you a hard time."

Since there was no furniture, the boys sat on the floor and ate their meal picnic style. They had finished eating when Jeremy's cell phone rang announcing that the furniture was on the way.

"It's beginning to look more like home," Jeremy announced when the furniture was in place. "It will be even better when I get my things here."

"I still wish you were going to NSU with me."

"Scott, this is something I need to do, just like you have your reason for going to NSU."

"I understand. Say, when are you actually going to start living here?"

"Wednesday, Mom and Dad are bringing most of my things down in the SUV. Mom already has things packed like dishes, towels, sheets, blankets, pots, and pans. She has been buying food too. I guess she thinks they don't sell groceries in Norman."

Jeremy looked around the apartment and wondered if he had made the right decision to not stay at home and go to NSU. Regardless, it was too late now to change his mind.

"Having regrets?" Scott asked as if reading his friend's mind.

"No not really, I guess I'm a little scared about being on my own. I guess we may as well head home."

They rode most of the way home with each boy in his own private thoughts. After miles of silence, Scott asked, "Jeremy do you regret being gay?"

"It's not easy being gay," Jeremy answered after a long pause. "It isn't like I have a choice about it, regardless of what your Dad's church says. What brought on that question?"

"I was just thinking that before we met I would never have expected a best friend who is gay."

"That's just it, Scott. I'm your best friend. I'm not your gay best friend; I'm your best friend who happens to be gay."

"Yeah, but before we met it wouldn't have bothered me that much when Dad said things about fags. Now, I want to punch him out when he says that."

"Don't do that. It isn't worth it."

"I know that. I'm afraid if I kicked his ass he would just take it out on Mom or Molly.

"You're staying for dinner?" Jeremy asked as he pulled into the driveway.

"Hell yeah, I know how you're mom pampers you since you're leaving home. I'll bet she is having beef stroganoff because it is your favorite."

"You're on, we had beef stroganoff Tuesday."

"Good timing boys," Nancy greeted the boys. "Dinner is almost ready. We're having beef stroganoff."

"I win," Scott exclaimed.

"Win what?" Nancy asked.

"I told Jeremy that you would have beef stroganoff since he was leaving and that's his favorite."

"Am I that obvious?" Nancy giggled as she stirred the sour cream into the stroganoff.

"Yes you are, Dear," Allen said as he tossed the salad.

"Cody is on his way over with Molly," Annie said as she placed the cordless phone back in the charger. "Hi boys, how was your trip?"

"It was fine," Scott answered. "Did you say that Cody was on his way over?"

"Yes, we thought it would be a good idea since Jeremy and Cody will be going away to college soon," Nancy said.

"How did you get Cody to agree to come over?" Jeremy asked. "He rarely comes around lately."

"I told him that he either comes over or I was going there and bring him over," Annie laughed. "He's so much like his dad in that aspect."

During dinner Cody was somewhat reserved, and politely answered questions directed at him. Molly, who had become a beautiful young lady, was bubbly and seemed to enjoy the gathering. "I'm really nervous about starting ninth grade," she said.

"We all were, Molly," Jeremy said. "You will still have your friends from your old school."

"And, I'll have a new wardrobe, thanks to Annie," Molly said. "I won't feel so out of place now."

"Molly, you could wear a gunny sack and still be beautiful," Nancy said.

"Thank you, Nancy," Molly giggled and blushed. "I'm still nervous about high school."

"We have something for you three," Allen said as he stood up from the table. "Jeremy, would you come and help me?"

Allen and Jeremy returned carrying a laptop computer with a portable printer for each of the Downing siblings.

"We can't accept these," Cody sternly said.

"Why not?" Molly glared at him.

"Dad won't like it," Cody said. "He's still not happy about Annie getting new school clothes for you."

"Piss on Dad," Scott said. "Oops sorry, that just came out."

"I'll have to agree with you, Scott," Annie said. "I'll have a talk with Mitch, and if he says anything before I have the chance just tell him that I will be calling him."

"Thank you," Molly and Scott both said.

"Yeah, thanks," Cody finally said.

"It was Jeremy's idea," Annie said. "He paid a third, I paid a third, and Nancy and Allen paid a third. He knew that Cody would need one when he started college this fall, and then we decided that you could all use one."

"Thank you Jeremy," Cody said in a voice that seemed sincere. "I would have had to do most of my computer work in the library without this."

"We knew you would need it for college," Jeremy said. "You know that Norman isn't all that far from Weatherford. Maybe you and Allison could meet me in Oklahoma City sometime for dinner."

"Yeah, maybe we could," Cody said. Jeremy knew there was no sincerity in his answer and that the meeting would never occur, but his offer was sincere.

"Mom I don't need all of this stuff," Jeremy argued to no avail as Nancy stuffed more things into the already full SUV.

"You might need it and then you'll be happy I sent it," Nancy countered.

"Son, this is one argument you're not going to win," Allen said.

"I'm going to pick up Annie," said Jeremy as he was eager to change to subject. He was happy that Annie had agreed to accept his invitation to go see his new apartment.

"This is much nicer than my first house when I got married," Annie said when she saw the apartment.

"I think it will do," Jeremy said.

"Why don't you guys start unloading the cars and I'll start putting things away," Nancy said. "Annie, make yourself comfortable."

"I'm not sitting around and watching you work," Annie said. "I'll help and then we will finish sooner."

"I'm hungry," Allen said after they four had worked until early afternoon. "Let's get some lunch and we can finish this after lunch."

"I can finish it myself," Jeremy said. "Thank you for helping, but I can manage the rest."

After lunch Nancy insisted that they go grocery shopping for perishable items that she hadn't brought. "Mom, I can go grocery shopping myself," Jeremy protested to a deaf ear.

After filling the refrigerator with enough food to feed a family of four for a month Nancy was satisfied that Jeremy wouldn't go hungry for a while. Nancy and Allen were reluctant to leave their only son to live on his own, but they decided it was time to make the three hour drive back home.

"You be sure and call if you need anything," Nancy said as she hugged Jeremy goodbye with teary eyes.

"Mom, I'll be fine," Jeremy promised. "But, I'll call if I need anything."

"Be happy and enjoy your college years," Annie challenged. "I know you're here to get an education, but you need to also enjoy the college life too."

"She's right, Son," Allen agreed. "Keep your grades up, but make friends while you're here.

"I'll try," Jeremy promised, but his words didn't sound convincing.

After his family had departed, Jeremy felt an overwhelming sense of loneliness. This was something he hadn't expected. He missed knowing that his parents were in the next room discussing the day's event or in the kitchen preparing the evening meal together. Although Jeremy loved his parents he had looked forward to being on his own. But, this loneliness was completely unexpected.

Jeremy tried to watch some TV, but nothing interest him. He picked up the phone to call home, but realized that his parents wouldn't have had time to arrive back in Tahlequah yet. He decided that it wouldn't be a good idea to call very often or they would worry about him being lonely. He decided to call his old friend in California, Casey. After placing the call he got Casey's voice mail, but decided to not leave a message. Maybe he would call back tomorrow.

He paced the floor for a while and then decided to call Dorothy to see how she was doing. "Hello," the familiar voice said.

"Hello Grandma Dorothy," Jeremy said while smiling when hearing the warm comforting voice.

"Well hello Jeremy," Dorothy said. "It is so good to hear from you. You must be in your new apartment in Norman already."

"I am, how did you guess?" Jeremy asked.

"I detected a bit of loneliness in your voice," Dorothy said. "I was the same way when I first arrived here in Florida. I called Annie every day."

"How are you doing down there?" Jeremy asked.

"I'm doing fine," Dorothy said as some sadness came through in her voice. "I miss Oklahoma something terrible. I grew up there and it was the only place I had ever lived. All of my friends are still there."

"Why don't you come back home?" Jeremy asked.

"I would love to do that, Jeremy," Dorothy said. "But, I'll stay here as long as my sister needs me. When she no longer needs me I'll move back to Oklahoma."

"How is your sister doing?" Jeremy asked.

"She isn't doing well at all," Dorothy said. "She thinks I'm our mother. I'm afraid the time will come soon when she needs twenty-four hour care. We may have to put her in a nursing home."

"Will you come home then?" Jeremy asked.

"No, I know what poor care some of those nursing homes give," Dorothy said. "I'll still need to see that they take care of her like they are supposed to."

There was a long silence when Dorothy finally asked, "You still miss him, don't you?"

"Every day and it isn't getting any easier," Jeremy said as tears began to flow.

"I miss him too," Dorothy admitted. "Blake will always be in our hearts. But Jeremy, you know that there is room in your heart for Blake and a new love. You can love someone new and still have the love for Blake that you always had."

"I don't think I'll ever love anyone again," Jeremy said.

"One day you will, and when you do don't feel guilty because of your love for Blake," Dorothy advised. "I love the children I gave birth to, but there was still room for my love for Blake in my heart too. I hear my sister and I need to go check on her. Please call again. Remember Jeremy, I know what lonely is and the best think you can do is be with people. I was lucky that God sent me Blake. Goodbye, Jeremy. Remember that I love you."

"Goodbye, and I love you too Grandma Dorothy."

Jeremy decided that he would go to Florida and visit Dorothy during his Christmas break.

'It's too early for my alarm,' Jeremy though when he woke trying to figure out where he was. He then realized it was his phone ringing that woke him. "Hello," he answered in a sleepy voice.

"Hey Jer this is Casey, you sound drunk," Casey said. "I saw on my caller ID that you called."

"No, I'm not drunk," Jeremy yawned. "I was sleeping. What are you doing calling back at one a.m.?"

"Oh shit, I forgot about the time difference," Casey said. "I'll call you back tomorrow."

"It is tomorrow, asshole," Jeremy said.

"My tomorrow, shithead," Casey countered. "Bye."

"Bye," Jeremy said with a slight smile as he turned over and went promptly back to sleep.

Jeremy woke again feeling the old sadness coming back. He knew he needed to talk to someone, but didn't have the energy to pursue it. After a breakfast of a bagel and cream cheese Jeremy took his coffee to the balcony. Walkers and joggers were already using the park, most likely to avoid the late summer heat. He decided that he probably should get back into his workout routine.

Jeremy noticed a couple of young guys about his age stretching in preparation for a run in the park. He couldn't help but wonder if they were friends, or maybe even lovers. He wondered what it would be like had Blake lived. Would they be two young lovers preparing for a jog in the park? Jeremy couldn't help but shed a few tears as he thought of what might have been. His thought were interrupted by the phone he had thought to bring with him to the balcony.

The caller ID showed the number of his home back in Tahlequah. He wasn't expecting a call from his parents, but one from Casey. His first thought was to not answer, but decided that this would worry his parents more than necessary.

"Hello," he answered, not sure which parent had called.

"Hi Honey," his mother said. "We didn't hear from you yesterday and were just calling to see how you were doing."

"I'm doing okay," Jeremy said while trying to put a bit of cheer in his voice.

"You don't sound okay," Nancy said.

"Really Mom, I'm doing fine," Jeremy insisted.

"Jeremy, I know you better than that," Nancy said with skepticism. "I'm going to call Dr. Carlton and have him find a counselor there in Norman for you."

"Mom, I said that I'm fine," Jeremy asserted. "Just leave me alone."

"I'm not letting this go, Jeremy," Nancy persisted. "Either you see a counselor there or you'll come back home and go to college here at NSU."

"Mom, I'm eighteen now and I can make my own decisions," Jeremy argued, but knew that his mother was correct. He didn't like feeling the way he did."

"Listen to your mother," Allen said. He had apparently been listening on the other phone. "You might be eighteen, but we have to approve the release of any money from your trust fund until you're twenty-one. We know that you're hurting and probably feeling very lonely right now. But, you have to go on with life. Annie had warned us that you still weren't well. I guess she was correct."

Jeremy was surprised at his parent's frankness and reluctantly agreed to see a counselor. He even agreed to call home every day until his new doctor released him from further visits.

Jeremy spent most of the morning cleaning his already spotless apartment when the phone rang again. 'Casey,' he thought.

"Hello," he answered when he saw that it wasn't Casey, but Dr. Carlton.

"Hi Jeremy," Dr. Carlton said. "Your mom said that you weren't doing so well right now."

"I guess not," Jeremy admitted.

"I have made an appointment with Dr. Jennings in Oklahoma City," Dr. Carlton said. "He will see you today at one."

"That soon?" Jeremy questioned.

"Yes, that soon," Dr. Carlton said. "We need to get you back on medication and back on the road to recovery. I should have anticipated that going away to college might have this affect on you. Now, I don't know a lot about Dr. Jennings and if that doesn't work out let me know and I'll find someone else."

"Alright Dr. Carlton, thank you," Jeremy said.

"Your mom gave me your E-mail address and I E-mailed the address and phone number for Dr. Jennings. There is also a form that you will need to sign and fax back to me. This will allow me to release your records to Dr. Jennings. Do you have access to a fax there?"

"Yes sir, my printer also works as a fax," Jeremy said.

"Alright, please sign the release form and fax it right back to me," Dr. Carlton said. "I'll get your records faxed to Dr. Jennings before you arrive."

After signing and faxing the form back to Dr. Carlton, Jeremy fixed a sandwich before showering and getting dressed for his appointment.

Jeremy's cell phone began to ring as he was driving north on I-35 toward Oklahoma City. He ignored the call since he never talked on his cell phone while driving. He decided he would check his caller ID after his appointment.

Dr. Jennings office appeared too clinical for Jeremy's taste. Dr. Carlton's waiting area was more inviting like a family den, while Dr. Jennings' waiting area was filled with uncomfortable naugahyde covered furniture.

Jeremy's first impression of Dr. Jennings was that he was as artificial as the covering on his furniture. He was dressed more like a funeral director than a psychiatrist and his office even had a funeral parlor appearance. "I've been looking over your records," he said without any type of introductions. "I see that you are a homosexual."

'This isn't going to work,' Jeremy thought to himself. He didn't like they way Dr. Jennings put an emphasis on the word homosexual.

"Yes, I am," Jeremy readily admitted without embarrassment.

"Well, the first thing we need to do is treat you for your thinking that you're a homosexual," Dr. Jennings almost spat the word out.

"Dr. Carlton didn't seem to think it was something that needed treatment," Jeremy countered.

"Dr. Carlton isn't your doctor here, I am," Dr. Jennings faked a smile. "Now if I'm going to help you we'll do this my way."

"Then there will be no way," Jeremy said as he stood to leave. "You can send a bill to my parents if you want, but I won't promise that they will pay you when I tell them of your outdated treatments."

"My treatments are according to God's law, and not from any medical book," Dr. Jennings shouted.

"Then I suggest that you go practice behind a pulpit and not a medical license," Jeremy said as he left the room.

Jeremy unlocked his apartment, still steaming from his encounter with Dr. Jennings, to hear his phone ringing.

"Hello," he answered without even looking at the caller ID.

"Jeremy, I understand that things didn't work out with Dr. Jennings," Dr. Carlton said.

"How did you find out so fast?" Jeremy asked.

"He called me as soon as you left his office," Dr. Jennings said. "I didn't realize he was such a quack. I'll call around and find a more professional doctor. However, it will probably next week before I can get you in. I will do a better job of checking them out this time. Meanwhile, I'm getting you back on medication and have called in a prescription to the Walgreens not far from you."

"I really hate to go back on medication," Jeremy weakly argued.

"After you see a reliable doctor he or she can decide on your medication," Dr. Carlton explained. "You're going through too much at this time to not have the help of medication."

"Alright, you're the doctor," Jeremy agreed.

After picking up his prescription, Jeremy went back to his apartment and began preparing his dinner. He had finished his dinner and was cleaning the kitchen when his phone rang. "Hello Casey," he said when he saw Casey's name on his caller ID.

"Man, I've been trying to call you all day," Casey said.

"I went in to Oklahoma City to the doctor," Jeremy said.

"Are you okay?"

"Yeah, I'm okay."

"You don't sound okay."

"Now you sound like Mom."

"Okay, then why did you have to go to the doctor?"

"It was a shrink."

"Maybe you shouldn't be there alone."

"I'm not going to do myself in, if that's what you're saying."

"That's not what I'm saying. I'm saying that you shouldn't be there alone. You should go home for the weekend."

"I can't do that."

"Why can't you go home for the weekend?"

"What would that look like to Mom and Dad if I did that? They would think that I couldn't make it on my own."

"Call your friend Scott to come and spend the weekend with you."

"He's working this weekend."

"Then I'm flying there for the weekend."

"No, you don't need to do that. Come when you can stay more than a weekend."

"Ok, I'll stay for three or four days. I'll call you back in a few minutes with my flight schedule. Do I fly into Tulsa?"

"No, Oklahoma City is closer to Norman."

Twenty minutes later Casey called and said, "I'll arrive at 9:30 tonight on Frontier Airlines."

"I'll be there," Jeremy said. "Casey thanks for being a good friend."

"That's what friends are for. I had better get packed; Dad is driving me to Sacramento to the airport. Bye, for now."


The drive to Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City seemed much longer than the 30 minutes that his MapQuest search indicated. Jeremy arrived with the feeling that he was running late, but the flight board indicated he had 35 minutes to kill. He purchased a cup of coffee that tasted like it had been made hours earlier. Nevertheless he drank it after adding copious amounts of creamer and sugar.

Casey's flight arrived at its scheduled time and Jeremy spotted Casey among the first passengers to depart. "Hey, you look great," Jeremy greeted him with a hug.

"You look like shit," Casey said as he hugged Jeremy back.

"Yeah, right," Jeremy laughed.

"I'm serious," Casey said as his smile disappeared. "Have you been sleeping?"

"I guess not as well as I should be. Let's get your luggage and get on the road."

"I only have this carryon bag. I'll only be here a few days and I packed light."

Casey filled Jeremy in on the latest news on all of their old friends in California as they drove from the airport to Norman. "Nice apartment," Casey said when Jeremy unlocked the door.

"Thanks," Jeremy said. "Help yourself to something to drink while I go piss. I forgot to ask if you had dinner."

"I grabbed something to eat at the layover in Denver. But, if you don't mind I'll fix myself a sandwich."

"Everything is in the refrigerator, or if you would rather have a pizza there are some frozen ones in there too."

"This isn't bad pizza for a frozen one," Casey said as he reached for a second slice. "Now, tell me what it is that has you so depressed."

"I guess it was the sudden fact that I was all alone and that the one I loved most was no longer alive. It all hit me really hard."

"You mentioned that you went to a shrink, and I'm taking it that it didn't go very well."

"The asshole wanted to cure me of my homosexuality and didn't care that I had lost someone I loved. I walked out on him."

"Then I'm really glad that I came. Are you going to see another shrink?"

"Yeah my shrink in Tahlequah is finding another one for me here."

"Are you going to be okay until then?"

"Yeah, Dr. Carlton called a prescription for medication to a Walgreens here. But, it does take a few days for it to kick in."

"My classes at UC Davis don't start for another three week. I'll stay here with you until you are better."

"You didn't bring that many clothes."

"I can wash what I have and I'll either buy some or wear some of yours."

"I thought you were working."

"I was, but it was a temporary job. Mom and Dad don't want me to work while I'm in college. If you remember, I my grades weren't as good as yours."

The two talked until almost three in the morning when Jeremy finally said, "I think we had better get some sleep. I know you're still on California time, but we're two hours earlier here. You take my bed and I'll use the air mattress."

"Didn't we used to sleep in the same bed when we were kids?"

"That was before I was gay, and I didn't think you'd want to sleep in the same bed now."

"You were always gay, dummy. You didn't know it then. Just don't try anything with me."

"Like I would try anything with an ugly shit like you."

"You wish you were as good looking as I am."

When the first day of classes arrived Jeremy was feeling better, not only because the medication had kicked in, but Casey's visit was just what he needed. He was happy that Casey had decided to extend his visit for a full week.


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