It was Scotty. He was on the bench again in the middle of the night. Teddy came down and asked me to go.
"I'm going, Tommy."
"Don't go, Ace. You got no business there."
"Someone's got to do something."
"Not you, Ace. Scotty needs a lot more help than you can give him."
"Well, I can't let him sit out there, can I?"
"No, I guess you can't, Ace. Anyone else could, but you can't. That's why I love you. You got no sense whatsoever. Go on out there. Help Scotty. But no one can help Scotty, Ace. We've all tried. Scotty doesn't want our help. Scotty wants to be depressed."
"I don't think, so, Tommy. I don't think Scotty wants that at all."
Scotty was on his bench. It was out in front of the science building. He sat there a lot. I don't know why he picked that bench, exactly, but it was his. Every time I passed that bench I acknowledged it as "Scotty's bench". Sometimes I even nodded to it as if to say, "Hello." I never told anyone that I felt that it was almost a person, but I did. It was Scotty's best friend. I had always liked Scotty. He was a quiet kid with a real dry sense of humor. A lot of guys didn't like him because his humor cut sometimes. Sometimes it hurt real bad because it was true and you didn't want to hear that about yourself. Other times it hurt real bad because you knew that Scotty hurt so bad. When I got there it was two AM. Scotty was just sitting on his bench and staring into space.
"Mind if I sit down?"
"It's two o'clock in the fucking morning. You wanted maybe John Steinbeck?"
I sat down beside him and stared in the same direction he was staring. There was an orange neon light that said "Esther's" on it. Esther made really good pancakes. We went there for breakfast on Sunday mornings. Well actually it was a late lunch on Sunday afternoons, but it was morning to us. Esther's pancakes were unbelievable. She liked us. Esther had a gay son. She recognized us right away. We never could figure out how she knew. She just knew. And she treated us like we were her very own. Moose was the one who found out about her son. She said he reminded her of her son. "He's gay, too." she had said. "Oh," Moose had replied. So we all knew. We had adopted Esther just as she had adopted us. We called her Mom and she called us her boys. It was nice to be liked for who we were and not to be disliked for it. Anyway, that's where Scotty was looking… down towards Esther's.
"You having problems again, Scotty?"
"Nah, I just like to sit on this bench in the middle of the night. The bed is so fucking hard."
"Don't treat me that way, Scotty. It's me, Willie. I don't deserve that from you. I like you and I want to help you."
"What if I don't want your help?"
"Well, that's just too goddamn bad now, isn't it?"
We sat in silence again. Esther's sign flickered like it might go out. I had never noticed that before. I kind of liked it though. I liked a flickering sign better than I would have liked a real steady one. I don't know why. I guess I could kind of root for a flickering sign. "Come on, sign, you can do it. You can make it through the night." A flickering sign was friendly and non-threatening. But a real bright and steady sign…now that was a threat. It didn't need any help at all. You had better stay away from that son of a bitch. That sign could hurt you. So, I liked Esther's flickering sign, and I thought about her pancakes, and her smile. I would go to Esther's tomorrow and get a strawberry pancake.
"Hey, Scotty, you want to go to Esther's tomorrow and get a strawberry pancake? I'm buyin'."
"Sure, I guess so."
Again we sat in silence. I wondered if my sitting there was helping at all. If it wasn't and we were going to look at Esther's fucking flickering sign for another couple of hours, I was going back to the room for some sleep. This was fucking ridiculous. I'd give it about ten more minutes and I'd be out of there. I started doing crazy things with my eyes. I would make designs out of the sign by making my eyes move real fast in different directions. There was a Texaco sign down there, too, so I tried it with that one. It worked too. I was really getting into this sign design thing with my eyes. I was so tired, I actually started enjoying sitting on the stupid bench and doing nutty things with my eyes.
Scotty was crying. Shit. I'd never seen him cry before. I'd seen him really down and almost not able to talk, but I'd never seen him cry. It scared me a little. I wasn't sure what to do. I mean, I was gay and everything and touching another guy didn't bother me, but the other guy had to want to be touched, you know? I had no idea whether Scotty was gay or not. He was certainly cute in a young boyish sort of way, but I certainly wasn't interested in him sexually. It's funny. I had never stopped to wonder until now whether Scotty was gay or not. Well, I'm sure the thought had passed through my mind, but not really often and not seriously enough to pay attention to it. I suppose he could be gay. Did I think he was gay just because he was crying? Straight guys cried. I had seen some. I couldn't believe that I was really having this conversation with myself. This kid beside me was crying. What was I going to do about it?
I held him. That's what I would have done for Tommy and that's what I would have wanted Tommy to do for me, so that's what I did for Scotty. I just put my arm around him and held him. He cried harder. He didn't make sounds. Well, he did make sounds, but not really sounds exactly. I don't know what you'd call them. Okay, I guess he made sounds. I thought he was going to lose it completely. What would I do if he just lost it right there on his bench with no one around but me. Tommy was right. I wasn't prepared for this. But I knew I wasn't leaving. I couldn't leave someone hurting like Scotty was hurting. Shit.
I started rocking him. I started fucking rocking him back and forth almost like a baby. I just wanted him to feel better. And he let me. He just laid his head on my shoulder and cried and let me rock him back and forth. It's so strange that it didn't feel funny to me. It felt right. I knew I was doing the right thing. I was rocking Scotty and I knew I was doing the right thing. The crying wasn't getting any better. Whatever it was wasn't going away. I was hoping I wasn't going to find out what it was. If I didn't know what to do to help him when he was just crying, I knew I would be in real trouble if he ever told me what was causing him to cry like this. It was a cry like none I had ever heard before. It was such a painful cry and came from so deep within him.
We sat like that for a long time…just crying and rocking. I couldn't believe it, but I started humming to him. Shit. What was going on here? The guy was my age and I was sitting and holding him and rocking him and humming to him…and he was crying. I decided that we were sitting and holding and rocking and humming in a place where no one would ever see us, and so who the fuck gave a shit if it was working? And it did seem to be working. He wasn't crying has hard now. I stopped humming. The humming had made me feel really weird.
"He fucked me, Willie."
"He fucked me."
"Who fucked you, Scotty?"
"My Daddy. My Daddy fucked me, Willie…over and over and over again.
And then he started to cry again. And then I started to cry with him. I had never been around such hurt, or felt such pain. I didn't understand it exactly, but I got the general picture. The Scotty that was talking to me wasn't the Scotty I knew. This Scotty was a little kid. He even sounded like a little kid. He even cried like a little kid. I had no trouble holding and rocking and humming this time. I was holding and rocking a little kid. I didn't want to know how old. I didn't want to know any more than I already did. I didn't want to know as much as I already did. I was too young to know this. It scared me.
"Hold me, Willie. Please hold me. I need you to hold me. You won't tell anybody will you? You won't tell anybody that my Daddy fucked me, will you? No one can know. I don't want anybody to know. I'm so sorry I told you. Hold me, Willie. Hold me."
We sat that way for maybe a couple of hours. My arms got so tired. My butt got so tired sitting on that hard bench. I was exhausted. But I was in this one for the long haul. As long as that kid needed to be held and rocked, I was there. Oh, how I wanted to be older and wiser and to know what to do. Finally, as the sun started to come up, whatever it was seemed to get a little better. He stopped crying and just looked at me. I will never forget the hurt in those eyes.
"I'll walk you back to your room."
"Thanks." He said.
"Nothing happened, you know."
"He didn't do it…anything, my Dad."
"Not if you say he didn't, Scotty."
"No, no he didn't."
"You believe me, don't you."
"Sure, Scotty, I believe you."
"So you won't tell."
"No, I won't tell."
We were at Scotty and Teddy's room. I opened the door quietly and led Scotty inside. I still had the feeling that I was with a small child. Teddy was in his bed reading. It was obvious that he was worried and had stayed up all night waiting to find out what had happened. I simply put my finger to my lips to keep him quiet. He understood and turned out his light. There was just a little light in the room from the sunrise. I pulled back the covers on his bed, sat him down and took off his shoes and socks. I was good at this part. There's nothing like a roommate who likes to get drunk to make you good at putting someone to bed. Then, I stood him up and pulled off his pants. I laid him down and covered him up. Teddy was in the top bunk, so I knew he couldn't see me. I knelt down and I kissed Scotty on the forehead. I was putting him to bed. It was only natural. It seemed to be natural for him too. He just sort of smiled and turned over. I knew he would be asleep in a matter of seconds.
"What was that all about?"
"He was just depressed."
"He never did say."
"You're welcome. Hey, Teddy?"
"Be nice to him today, okay?"
"I will, Willie."
I closed the door and walked towards my room. I couldn't get there fast enough. I was crying as I ran down the hall. I didn't know why I was crying. I just knew that I had to cry and that I had to cry a lot and that I couldn't cry alone. When I got to the room and opened the door, Tom didn't ask any questions. He just held out his covers for me and I jumped in beside him. I didn't even stop to get undressed. I just had to be there beside him.
"Hold me, Tommy. Please hold me."
"Okay, Ace. Okay."
And I cried and I cried and I cried. All of the hurt that I had absorbed from Scotty had to come out. I was so grateful that I had Tommy. But who did Scotty have? I had promised to keep his secret, and I would…from the people that didn't need to know anything about it. But someone needed to know. I couldn't let Scotty keep that inside. If he didn't get it out, it would kill him. I knew there were people who would understand and would know what to do. And, well, if he ever needed me again out there on his hard bench, at least I knew I could hold and rock and hum with the best of 'em.
"Good night, Tommy. Don't let go, okay?"
"Okay, Ace, I'm not letting you go. Hey, Ace?"
"You did a good thing tonight."
"I know, Tommy. I know."
The Badpuppy.com model in these pictures is Austin Grant
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