By Owen Hudson September 2007
I thought about Jeff Parker every day after he left. In my heart I knew he was alive and I would find him. I realized that I wasn't in love with him, but I did have a big crush on him. I felt guilty about what I had done to him. I should have known that he was straight. I still don't know why I kissed him. I was on a mission now. I would find Jeff and, if nothing else, apologize to him.
My family understood my need to locate Jeff. As a cop, my dad made suggestions and did a little detective work himself. We did find out that a boy about Jeff's age and description had taken the bus to St. Louis. I assumed that he was somewhere in the St. Louis area. I did a lot of internet searches, but none revealed any information.
The one positive of the whole ordeal was that my brother, Tony, and I became even closer. Not only was he spending more time with me, but he had me on an exercise program and I was actually becoming more muscular. Tony's friends accepting me as a peer, and some of the girls were openly flirting with me. While I enjoyed the attention, I had no interest in the girls. However, some of Tony's friends were really hot.
I usually walked home from school and I made a point of walking by Jeff's house. One day just as I was walking by, Jeff's mom and dad drove up. His dad was driving since she had long since lost her driving license because of her DUI record. "What are you doing here, you fucking fag?" His dad roared.
"Not that it concerns you, but I'm on my way home," I defiantly said.
"Don't get smart with my you fag or I'll knock you on your ass," Mr. Parker threatened.
"You do and I'll be the last kid you hit, you mother fucker," I said with authority. "My dad is a cop and he'll have your drunken ass in jail before you even have a chance to sober up."
Mr. Parker must have believed me because he made a quick retreat into the house. That evening when I told my dad about the encounter, he was really pissed off. "I guess I need to have a little chat with Mr. Parker," Dad said. My dad must have made good on his threat, because the next few times I saw the Parkers out they made a quick retreat into the house when they saw me.
It was one of those late fall days when the weather turned nasty. There was a northerly wind with rain and snow. I usually walked home from school, but on those days Tony would drive me home before going to work. I was gathering my book from my locker when Tony arrived and said, "Hey little brother, I can't drive you home. But, Craig here will drive you home."
I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Craig was one of the best looking guys in the school. He was even as hot as Jeff. I know that Tony could tell that I thought Craig was a stud by the silly grin on his face. I finally managed to extend my hand for a shake and mumbled, "Thanks."
When Craig pulled into my driveway I asked him if he wanted to come in. To my surprise, he said yes. The house had the smell of fresh baked cookies. Mom always liked to bake when the weather turned cold and nasty. She said it made the house feel warm and welcoming.
"Hi Mom," I said. "This is Craig and he gave me a ride home. Tony had to go directly to work after school."
"Hi Craig," Mom said. "It's nice to meet you. You boys help yourself to some cookies. There are some ready on the cooling rack. That should hold you over until dinner. Would you like to stay for dinner, Craig?"
"Thank you Mrs. Rossi," Craig said. "I'd like that, but I need to call my mom and let her know."
Craig and I went to my room and talked as if we were old friends. When Tony arrived home from his part-time job, mom called us downstairs for dinner. Craig seemed to enjoy mom's home cooking. But, who wouldn't enjoy an Italian Mother's home cooking. She of course loved the fact that he enjoyed it so much.
After dinner we sat around and chatted for a while and then Craig said he needed to get home. I walked him to the door and my surprise he asked, "Would you like to go out sometime?"
This caught me off guard and like a dumb ass I asked, "Huh?"
"Would like to go out on a date sometime?" He asked again.
"Do you mean…?" I managed to stammer.
"Yeah, I'm gay too," he said.
"You…, you…, I mean a hunk like you is really gay?" I finally managed to ask.
"I thought the same about you until your brother told me that I should ask you out," he said as he smiled with a sparkle in those beautiful blue eyes.
"But, how did he know that you…?" I asked as I still was trying to find the right words.
"I guess I was kind of flirting with him," Craig admitted. "But, he told me that he didn't swing that way. He then suggested that I meet his younger brother."
"That asshole," I laughed.
"Hey, at least it got us together," Craig said. "So, what's your answer?"
"I'd love to go out with you," I said. I would either hug or kill my brother later.
"Cool, how about this weekend?" Craig asked.
"Sounds cool to me," I said. "What do you want to do?"
"There is a community theater in Chicago that is doing The Laramie Project, Craig said. "That might be cool to go see."
Like a fool I had to ask, "What's The Laramie Project?"
"It's about the murder of Mathew Sheppard in Laramie, Wyoming just because he was gay," Craig explained.
"Oh yeah, I've heard about that, but I didn't know it was a play," I said. "But, it sounds like something worth seeing."
"Then it's a date," he said.
"It's a date," I laughed.
I went instantaneously to Tony's room and as he sat at his disk doing homework, I gave him a big hug. "What was that for?" He asked.
"For fixing me up with Craig," I said.
"I didn't fix you up," he said. "I merely introduced you two and you guys did the rest."
"Whatever," I said with a laugh. "Thank you anyway."
I had a wonderful date with Craig. We went out to dinner and then the play. I cried as the story about Matthew Sheppard unfolded during the play. I also noticed that Craig had tears in his eyes too. After the play, we stopped for coffee and chatted for a couple of hours. I quickly realized that he was not only handsome, but that he was also intelligent.
"How is it that you're so damn handsome and still single?" I asked.
He laughed and then said, "I'm not all that, but I was wondering the same thing about you."
"Oh but you are," I insisted. "I really was a nerd until Tony taught me how to dress and got me on a strength training program."
"You're my first gay date," he said. "I've never kissed a boy before."
"When we're in private, we can take care of that," I laughed.
"Have you ever kissed a boy?" He asked.
"One," I said. "That ended up in a disaster."
"What happened?" Craig asked.
I then explained what had happened with Jeff and how the kiss was more for sympathy for his situation that a romantic one. "I still feel guilty about what I did to him," I said.
"You had no way of knowing what the outcome was to be," Craig assured me. "Maybe he is happy somewhere now."
"I still wonder what became of him," I said. "I do a Google of his name often just to see if his name comes up. Do you realize how many Jeff Parkers there are out there? My dad did find out that a boy his age and description did buy a bus ticket to St. Louis."
"It could be that he went on from there, or that he had relatives there," Craig said. "My guess is that he would want to be some place where he would blend in and feel safe." He then reached across the table and took my hand and then said, "I know that you're the type of person that won't give up until you find him. I hope when you do you will still think of me."
"How could I forget a handsome guy like you?" I asked. "I really didn't know Jeff and I certainly don't know if he is gay or not. He was very good looking, but then you are too."
Craig became my boyfriend and was very understanding of my need to find out what became of Jeff. He never seemed threatened by this need.