By Owen Hudson September 2007
I woke not feeling well, but I decided to go to school anyway. I knew I could forge my mother's signature for an excuse from school, but I couldn't chance the school trying to call a mother that didn't exist. As far as I was concerned I no longer had a mother, and my former mother was still in Illinois. I also needed to keep my grades high for a decent scholarship.
I made it through all of my morning classes, but after lunch I felt a need to crawl into bed is sleep. I was in my English class not really hearing anything the teacher was saying. Finally, I heard Mrs. Whitlock say, "Jeff, are you okay?"
Before I could answer I felt my stomach turn. I jumped up and ran to the restroom. I just made it to the restroom when the contents of my stomach exploded into the commode. Just as the second explosion came, I heard, "Jeff, Mrs. Whitlock sent me to check on you. Are you okay?"
I managed to look up and saw Mason Box just before the third explosion from my stomach came. "What the fuck does it look like?" I asked and the immediately regretted my words. I then said, "Mason, I'm sorry, that was uncalled for."
"Don't worry about it," Mason said. "Let me help you to the nurse's office."
I leaned against Mason for support and could tell that he was solidly built. I looked at him good for the first time and realized that he was really good looking. Why was I noticing a guy's looks? Was I gay? Oh shit, maybe I was gay. I hadn't exactly pushed Tom away when he kissed me until I saw my mom watching us. I guess I had become recluse in the past that I never let myself be attracted to anybody, male or female.
"Put him on that gurney over there," I heard the school nurse tell Mason. "I'll get your vital signs and then we'll decide what to do with you."
As Mason helped me onto the gurney I suddenly felt another wave of nausea hit my stomach. Mason quickly grabbed a basin for me to vomit into; however it was mostly dry heaves and bitter bile. The nurse quickly took my vital signs and then said, "Jeff, I think you have the bug that's going around school. The bug usually is over in a day or two. I'll call your mother to come and get you."
"She's not home," I quickly said in a panic.
"Do you have her work number?" The nurse asked. "I'll just call her there."
"She's out of town in Little Rock," I lied. "You can call my grandpa to come and get me." I was hoping that he wouldn't accidentally give away my secret. I wrote down his name and phone number and handed it to the nurse.
"Mr. Day, this is Sharon Jordan," I heard her say. "I'm the school nurse and need you to come and get your grandson. He is in my office and needs to go home." There was a short pause and then, "Oh, I think he will be fine. There seems to be a bug going around school. Okay Mr. Day, just go to the front office and they can direct you to my office."
I actually was beginning to feel better after I had emptied the contents of my stomach. "May I come back to school tomorrow?" I asked Sharon.
"You probably should stay home until Monday, but as long as you're not running a fever I think it would be okay," Sharon answered. "Mason, would you mind helping Jeff to the car when his grandfather gets here."
"Not at all," Mason answered with a big smile.
Soon George arrived to pick me up; I noticed immediately that he had a concerned look on his face. "Are you okay, Son?" He asked with concern.
"I'm going to be okay, Grandpa," I assured him.
"He'll be fine, Mr. Day," Sharon concurred. "Just keep him quiet and give him some Tylenol. It would be a good idea to take his temperature every few hours. If his temperature doesn't go down or gets much higher, you probably should take him to his doctor."
"I'll see that he's taken care of," George said. "I'll keep him at my house until he is well."
"I think that would be wise since his mother is out of town," Sharon said.
I noticed that George didn't respond, but did have a puzzled look on his face. He then said, "I'll bring the car up to the front door and then come back and help you to the car."
"I'll help him to the car," Mason quickly volunteered. "You can meet us at the door."
"Thank you, young man," George said.
"It's my pleasure to help," Mason said with a grin that seemed to say more than his words. He then extended his hand to George and said, "I'm Mason Box."
"I'm George Day," George said as he gave Mason an appraising look.
When Mason assisted me to the door I found my self enjoying my physical contact with him in spite of my illness. I began to feel an arousal in my groin. I couldn't tell if Mason noticed it or not, but I was sure that he knew how teenage boys were. In Illinois I rarely thought of sex. My concern then was trying to avoid the abuse that my parents dealt out.
When George got me back to his place I insisted that I was well enough to take care of myself in my trailer. However, I soon lost that argument. George put me to bed in his spare bedroom and soon brought me a tray with some chicken soup. I must have had a questioning look on my face when George said, "Don't worry about it. It's canned and I only heated it up." We both got a good laugh out of that.
By morning I was feeling well enough to go back to school, but George insisted that I wait until Monday. It was Friday and I really didn't argue that much with him. George went by my work and got sandwiches and he informed them that I was ill and wouldn't be in for work. I felt proud when George told me that my boss told him that I was his most dependable and hardest working employee. I could tell that George was proud of me too.
I wasn't used to doing nothing and by evening I was restless and decided to cook a nice dinner for George and myself. George offered to get carryout for dinner, but I needed something to do and insisted that I cook. George tried to help, but he was in my way more than he helped. I finally insisted that he go watch the evening news.
As I was putting dinner on the table the phone rang. I heard George tell the person on the line that I was feeling much better and that I would be back in school Monday. I assumed that it was Sharon the school nurse checking on me.
"Jeff, you're wanted on the phone," George said as he came into the kitchen.
"Who is it?" I asked as I wondered who would want to speak to me.
"It's your friend, Mason Jar," George said in all sincerity.
"Grandpa, his name is Mason Box," I said as I erupted into laughter.
"Hello," I said into the phone in between bouts of laughing.
"What's so funny?" Mason asked.
"My grandpa thought your name was Mason Jar," I said still laughing.
Mason joined me in laughter and when we finally gained our composure he finally said, "I just called to see how you were feeling."
"I'm feeling fine now," I assured him. "Thank you for helping me when I was puking my guts up."
"I wish I could say I enjoyed it, but that would be a lie," Mason laughed. "I'll just say that I was glad I could help."
We laughed and chatted for a few minutes and then I realized that George was probably waiting for me so we could eat. "Hey man, I need to go," I said. "Grandpa is waiting for me so he can eat dinner. I'll see you in school Monday."
"I'll see you tomorrow," Mason said. "Your grandpa invited me to come by and see you."
"Maybe you shouldn't," I quickly said. "I wouldn't want you to get what I had."
"Your grandpa said that your fever was gone, so I think it's safe," Mason said. "Besides, if you remember I held your head while you puked your guts out."
"Yeah, I guess you're right," I reluctantly admitted. "How did you get my grandpa's phone number anyway?" I asked.
"I saw you write it down for the nurse, and I remembered it," Mason acknowledged. "Bye, I'll see you tomorrow."
"Okay, bye," I said. I without doubt wanted to see Mason, but I still wanted to keep my secret.
As I expected George was waiting to eat and he said, "It's about time you got off the phone. I was getting hungry."
"You could have started eating without me," I said in petulance voice. "You invited Mason over without asking me."
"I could tell that you like him and you weren't going to make a move on your own," George said with a grin. "I'm just trying to help you out. You are gay, aren't you?"
I was in a panic that George suspected that I'm gay. What if he were to throw me out? I'd still have my trailer, but then I'd have to have it moved and then pay lot rent somewhere else. "Do you mean that if I were gay you'd make me move?" I asked.
"Jeff, my youngest son was gay," George said softly with tears in his eyes. "I loved him just as much after I found out as I did before I knew. I feel the same about you?"
"How did you know?" I asked.
"Like I said, my son was gay," George said. "I learned the clues. Besides, I saw your reaction when Mason had his arm around you helping you to the car."
"I do like him," I confessed. "But, I'm not so sure it's a good idea for anybody to know where I live and to start asking questions."
"Jeff, you can't go through life without friends," George said. "Young people like you can't live in isolation. Besides, I can cover for you and as far as they need to know you are my grandson."
"Thanks Grandpa," I said.
"You're welcome, Son," George smiled. "We'll just tell everybody that your mother's job required that she be out of town for a while and you're staying with me until she returns."
"Thank you, Grandpa," I said. "But, you know I kind of like my little trailer. For the first time in my life I felt safe there. It was my own space."
"Jeff, I'm not trying to take over your life," George said. "I admire your maturity and what you've accomplished. You will always make the right decisions. I couldn't love you more than I do if you were my own son. Besides, I think I need you more than you need me. My life was the shits until you came along. You gave me a reason to live. So, you see nothing needs to change. You'll continue living in your trailer and I'll cover for you. But, you do know you'll always be welcome to live in my house with me."
"I know that I'm welcome there, Grandpa. But you see, I feel secure and happy the way things are. For the first time in my life I'm happy. Even before my dad started beating the crap out of me, I never felt love. My parents always provided the material things for me, but I never felt loved. I never even felt love from my mom. By the time I was eight my dad began the physical abuse. The first time was over a baseball game. I had struck out and ended the game. My dad said that I cost the team the game. He didn't consider that there were eight outer guys on the team."
I looked at George and saw tears in his eyes. "I guess I shouldn't be telling you all of this," I said.
"No, please continue," George smiled through his tears. "I feel that I need to know."
"After that beating, the beating became more severe," I continued. "Dad was smart enough that he never hit me where the marks would show. He would beat me because I cut the grass too short and then he would beat me because I cut it too tall. At first my mom didn't hit me, but later she joined in. She would tell my dad every little thing I did just to get me in trouble. She would embellish the story just to make it worse. She began to drink even more. Believe it or not, but that was better for me. When she was drunk and passed out she left me alone. I don't think I could have survived if Dad hadn't been a truck driver and on the road most of the time."
"Jeff, as long as I'm alive I'll do everything in my power to see that you're never abused again," George assured me. "As long as I have a home, you'll always have a home."
"I know, Grandpa," I agreed. "I will always love you for that. I think God every day for letting me find you. It seems as though it was fate that I ended up here in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and that I ended up finding your trailer park."
Our conversation was ended by the doorbell. "That must be that Mason Jar kid," George said while laughing at his own mistake.
I opened the door to see a smiling Mason. "Hi," He said. "It appears that you've recovered quiet well."
"Yeah, I think I'll live," I said.
"I brought your homework," He said with an impish grin.
"You really didn't need to do me any favors," I laughed. "Come on in."
"I was wondering if you wanted to go to the mall or something." Mason said.
"I don't know if I can," I said. I really had no reason not to go, but I wasn't used to going places just to hang out.
"Oh go on," George said as he entered the room. "It would be good for you to get out every now and then."
"Hi, Mr. Day," Mason said with a friendly smile.
"Hi, Mr. Jar," George said with a good natured laugh.
The three of us had a good laugh, then George tried to give me some money, but I insisted that I had some money. We pushed the money back and forth between us and I finally realized that this was and argument that I wouldn't win.
"Nice car," I said as Mason walked toward a nearly new Ford Mustang.
"Thanks, my parents gave it to me for my sixteenth birthday," Mason said.
I felt a sudden sadness when I recalled my sixteenth birthday. I couldn't tell Mason that I received a brutal beating for mine.
I never understood why kids my age like just hanging out at the mall so much. Mason and I walked around a while and then went to the food court for a drink. It was nice sitting there and enjoying Mason's company, but that's really the only thing about the mall that I enjoyed. As we sat chatting and enjoying each other's company I noticed a group of girls at another table. "That one girl is sure checking you out," I said.
Mason looked over at the table and said, "Oh, that's Carla Putnam. She has nothing that I'd want. Besides, she's a slut."
I laughed and asked, "How do you know that she's a slut? Have you done her?"
He laughed and said, "Hell no, she doesn't have anything I'd want. Anyway, why do you think she wears those big hoop earrings?"
"Those earrings make her a slut?" I asked.
"Hell yeah," he said. "It gives her a place to put her feet when she's getting fucked."
I laughed so hard that others in the food turned to look at us. Mason then joined me in laughter. Carla must have known that we were laughing at her; she turned and stared angrily at our table.
"Hey, let's get out of here," Mason suggested. "Do you want to go to my house and hang out for a while?"
I really didn't trust parents, but I reluctantly agreed to go because I was enjoying Mason's company. His house was in a very nice area of town, and the house was large and very stunning. "Hi mom," He said as his mother came out of the kitchen to greet us. "This is my friend Jeff. He's the one I told you about."
"Hi Jeff," She said with a pleasant smile. "I'm Susan Box, and I've heard all about you."
Oh, really?" I questioned.
"Oh yes, Mason said that you're the smartest kid in his class," Susan said. "Mason said that you were ill. I hope you're feeling better."
"Oh yes ma'am, I'm all well now," I said.
"I'm glad to hear that," she said. "Would you boys like a snack to hold you over until dinner?
"No thank you, we had something at the mall," Mason said. "Where's Dad?"
"He went to the hardware store to get material to fix that leaky faucet in the bathroom," Susan said. "Dinner will be ready in about an hour. You are staying for dinner aren't you, Jeff?"
"Sure he is," Mason answered before I could answer.
Dinner was very pleasant. Steve, Mason's father, was just as nice as his wife. I learned that Mason had an older brother who lived in Denver, and an older sister who lived in Little Rock. Susan wanted to know about my family. I mixed the truth with some lies, and told her that I mostly lived with my grandpa. I also told her that my parents were divorced and that my mom was out of town most of the time.
I thoroughly enjoyed my evening with the Box family. As Mason drove me home, I reflected on the evening. So, this is what a family was supposed to be like?