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Chapter 4

September 9 2005

It took a few moments for all my senses to kick in.  My ears had been deafened momentarily by the shot, but I was slowly beginning to here someone screaming for help.  My sight was blurry, but I could make out the moon overhead in the dark sky.  The first thing I felt was the growing wetness along my lower back, and within moments, a searing pain shot through the same place and everything started making sense.

I had been shot, I was on the ground on my back, and as my head moved around slightly, I could see that Derrick was hovering over me, and was the person screaming for help.

After a few minutes, I could hear more people gathering around.  I struggled to keep my breathing calm and rhythmic.  I had taken several first aid courses and knew what I could do to keep myself from going into shock.  Despite my efforts, I could feel myself growing weaker and my vision fading. I soon felt a warm hand grab my own, which was becoming cold quickly.  I didnít need to see to know who it was.  The last thing I remember was the distant screech of the ambulance siren.



I couldnít move a muscle.  I donít know if that was due to the large amount of blood I had probably lost, or the paralyzing agent in the anesthesia I was no doubt loaded with.  The important thing was I knew I wasnít dead, if not close to it.

My eyes closed, and despite my greatest mental efforts, they remained that way.  The first thing I could hear was the monotonous beep of the machine that was measuring my heartbeat.  From what I could tell, it sounded fine, not beeping too fast, and not too slow.

My sense of touch had also returned, so that part of the anesthesia must have already worn off.  I could feel I was in a bed, a stiff one at that, the searing pain in my back was now only a sore spot, but the one thing that registered the most was my hand, or rather what it was holding.  I still felt that warm, strong grasp that clung to my hand.  Behind it though, I could make out a faint sobbing.  Yet again, I didnít need my sight to know who it was.

The voice I heard no longer had fear in it.  It had a sense of resolve.

ďTommy.  A while ago you asked me what it was that I feared most.  I didnít know what you meant by it back then, but I think I finally understand now.  Itís not the stares, the ridicule, or the hateful remarks of intolerant bastards that Iím afraid of.  Itís not losing my closest friends because they just cant been seen with a Ďfagí or people would make fun of them too.  Itís not even the violence that scares me.  I finally realized that after all of this, after everything, the thing Iím most afraid ofÖis losing you.  When I saw your pale face, when I felt your cold hands, when IÖsaw the blood soaking into the ground, when I looked into your eyes, those eyes which showed not fear or hate, but love, thatís when I knew.  I never dreamed it would take this for me to realize it Tommy, but I love you, so much.  I donít know if I could go on without you.  If I could live knowing I could never kiss you again, hold you close to me on a cold night as we gazed at the stars, wake up every day looking forward to seeing your face.  Please, TommyÖdonít leave me.  Donít give up.Ē

Whether the drugs were wearing off or it was simply an act of God consoling Derrick through me, I will never know, but somehow I was able to muster the strength to give his hand the lightest squeeze.



Itís hard to tell how much time had passed.  I could tell they had me on the good stuff, since most of the time I was either unconscious, or either so out of it that you wouldnít be able to tell the difference between the two.

I wasnít able to make sense of any of the goings on in the hospital room for a while; blurred visions of people moving about, muffled conversations every now and then between the blurs, and an occasional sponge bath (this I could only make out from the sensation of the cool water).  I was okay with the current state of affairs, since it was probably a lot better then the excruciating pain I would have been feeling otherwise.

Finally, after what was probably several days, I was able to start seeing better and moving slightly.  The first thing I saw was exactly what I had expected to see.

ďOh, thank God Tommy!Ē  Of course it was mom.  ďHow are you feeling, does it hurt too much, are you hungry, is there anything we can do?Ē

ďIím fine mom,Ē was about all I could mutter out until I regained full mobility of my lips.

Dad was sitting next to mom with the hugest bags under his eyes I had ever seen.  Suddenly it hit me like a ton of bricks! How the hell am I going to explain this?  Do they already know about me and Derrick?  Have they found out who did this?  Is this going to fuck up my life forever?

It was way too much to think about right now.  I just needed a nap.



Had the past four months been a whole blur?  It all just seemed too good to be true.  The guy Iíve been falling over for over a year actually comes out to me, dates me, and falls in love with me.

Of course it was too good to be true, why else would I be lying in this hospital bed if life were truly fair.  I knew there were dangers in this world still, but I had at least hoped that people would be more understanding than this.  It seems so long ago that black men were lynched just for looking at a white girl, or for no reason at all!  Has our society really progressed at all in the past 200 years? 

Of course it has, we are a civilized people who have finally figured out how to disguise our hate yet make it just as effective.  Such as firing Jim because he was late on one project in the 15 years heís been here, not because of that ďspecial friendĒ of his he brought to the Christmas party.  Or perhaps denying Carol benefits for her partner at work, even though Joeyís wives get health coverage no matter how many divorces heís gone through (does it even matter Carol and Janice have been together 8 years and have adopted a child together?)

But right now I had to think about the present AND the future.  What would happen to Derrick and me?  No doubt everyone in school, if not the whole damn city, will know about us after the media has a circus.  He wonít be picked on at school; no one would mess with him?  Would his friends abandon him, lest they get labeled by the mob as a ďgay loverĒ too?

What about my friends?  Theyíll support me, I know they will.  They know the true me and Iím certain they wont care Iím gay.  It doesnít redefine me as a person.  One single word can not sum up an entire person.  Actions speak louder than words, and I have never pretended to be something Iím not.  Iíve always been Tommy around my friends, the same Tommy I am now, and the same Tommy I will continue to be for the rest of my life.

And then there are my parents.  Oh God!  Donít worry Tommy, just settle down.  Remember all those times they said theyíd love you no matter what.  Could they have actually known about me all along?  Parents always seem so in tune with their kidsí emotions.  Will they ever trust me again after all the lies Iíve told them, things Iíve hidden so Derrick and me could be together?

Derrick.  What is this going to do to us?  He could bail at any time and I wouldnít blame him, this is too much for me to handle and I shouldnít expect him to have to go through this too.  But I still love him.  Maybe this will bring us closer together, if any good can come of it.

One thing Iím sure about is that Iím not sure about anything anymore.

Thereís not just the emotional aspect, but the physical aspect.  Thereís no doubt Iím going to need a lot of physical therapy, and probably a ton of meds that I could easily get addicted to.  How much is this going to hurt?  Is it going to hurt for the rest of my life?  Oh God, I may never be able to fence again.  Damn it, the one sport Iím good at and I may have to sit on the sidelines for the rest of my life.

Of course thereís going to be a scar.  Imagine having to explain it to someone every time they see it.  Itís not like itís a cool story, I didnít get it while ďtumbling of my hog at 75 miles an hour.Ē  I already have a scar on my arm from getting burned by a popcorn maker, now plan on telling everyone how you got shot for being a fag.

Is God doing this to me because Iím gay?

No, thatís impossible.  Iíve tried to be a good person all my life and this just doesnít feel like a sin.  Jesus himself explained in a parable that sometimes bad things happed to good people.  There doesnít have to be reason, but there is always a result.  Only time will tell how this is going to affect me and everyone around me.

Thereís always hope, right?

Please God, let there be hope.

Ryan Petty the author!

I'm an eighteen-year-old college student, what more is there to say? I have been fencing for more than four and a half years and simply love the sport! I'm pretty good academically and do a lot of tutoring. I love playing the saxophone (for more than seven years) and try to learn new ones as well (euphonium is my best alternate now). I have made many new friends since publishing Meet online and am always interested in making new ones.

Petty Ryan's website