“Don’t tell me who to love
Don’t tell me who to kiss
Don’t tell me that there’s something wrong
Because I feel like this
Don’t tell me ‘no’
Don’t tell me who to love.”
- Don’t Tell Me Who To Love, RAY BOLTZ
* * * *
Something's wrong in heaven tonight
You can almost hear them cry
Angels to the left and the right
Saying 'What about the love?
What about the love?
What about the love?”
- What About The Love, SHAWN THOMAS
The bed felt extra empty tonight when Jonah crawled between the sheets. Noble should be here. Why the hell didn’t you bring him home with you? A deep ache settled in his heart that spread out through his arms; god, how he longed to be holding him now. He groaned and glanced at the glowing digital clock. Nearly midnight. He stared at his cell phone. I just need to hear his voice one more time. Just hear him tell me good night…that he loves me. Sighing, he grabbed the phone and dialed Noble’s landline number. He had no idea if he would still be awake, the guy had been pretty exhausted when Jonah had dropped him off. He smiled and moaned at the sweet, sizzling memories they had made tonight.
The phone at Noble’s end rang only three times before the answering machine picked up. Jonah waited for the beep then left his message. “Hey, baby. Hope I didn’t wake you by calling so late. But I couldn’t go to sleep without telling you again what an amazing time I had tonight, and that I already miss you and wish I had just asked you to come home with me. When you told me you loved me tonight…I almost died. And when you held me, kissed me…I think I did die, because this can only be heaven. I love you, Noble. So much, baby. I’ll talk to you tomorrow. Get lots of rest…you’re going to need it. Sweet dreams, baby. Good night.”
Jonah ended the call, held the cell phone to his chest and released a long breath, smiling, then set the phone back on the night stand. He still felt high from their date. But as he laid there staring at the dark ceiling, a sudden and unexpected anxiety began to pinch and prod at his gut. He had no idea where it was coming from, but it made him restless, uneasy. And he didn’t like it one bit.
Noble was up for the second time since he’d made his way to the bedroom, in the bathroom again, feeling the need to vomit from his mangled guts and the pain in his ribs and back. Each dry heave felt like a hot blade stabbing between his rib bones, grinding up into his chest. His hands gripped the toilet seat, arms supporting his trembling body as he stared down into the clear water. Nothing rank or vile had come out of him since he’d vomited in the kitchen sink. But his stomach was still fighting the earlier assault it suffered, and continued to revolt.
When the phone rang, he jerked hard, pulse kicking up so fast he gasped. He held his breath – which kind of eased the pain – and strained to hear if his dad would answer. But the machine grabbed the call instead. A broken sob rolled up his throat when he heard Jonah’s voice come through. The machine’s volume was too low for him to make out his words, but he could hear the tone…and he knew what he was saying. His hands gripped the toilet seat and he squeezed his eyes tight as more sobs began to choke him. He was desperate to run to the phone and grab it before Jonah hung up, beg him to come and take him away from here, just get in the car and drive and not stop until they were hundreds, even thousands of miles away.
Silence suddenly settled back over the apartment and Noble sank to his knees, pressing his head against his arms, crying. When he heard movement in the living room, he held his breath again and listened to the low beep of a button being pressed. He erased the message.
Noble made his way back to bed and carefully worked his body under the blankets, every movement inciting some level of pain. His breath wheezed, the sharpest pain being in his ribs and his lower back. Taking care to try and lay in just the right position that caused the least amount of discomfort, Noble stared up at the ceiling. Warm tears slid down his temples, from both physical hurt and emotional. You can’t erase him from my life as easily as you erased him from the machine. He isn’t going to go away just because you say so. He isn’t scared of you.
He closed his eyes and again heard Jonah telling him he almost wished Noble’s dad would try to get through him. I love you, Jonah. You’re my hero, baby. And no matter what happens…you’ve already saved me. And it doesn’t matter how hard he hits me, or how many times – he can’t take that away.
Mason had arrived home barely twenty minutes before the three women had come in. After speaking with Noble, he’d went for a drive. A long drive. This was a hell of a mess and he was caught dead in the center of it. There was no doubt that the perfect place for Noble, was with Jonah. But Rebecca clearly wasn’t going to let go that easy. He didn’t blame her for being upset or angry for the events taking place, but reality was reality and trying to force what could never be…it only hurt everyone involved. And Mason had spent the last few hours racking his brain trying to think of a way to reason with her, help her accept what is. Noble was having a difficult enough time as it was, he didn’t need her pushing him as well.
It had been after eleven at night when he’d finally come home – and found the house empty. Surely they weren’t still down at the church. But he hadn’t went to check. He wasn’t worried about them, they were together wherever they happened to be. And he doubted they wanted his presence anyway. What would this mean for his marriage? He loved Colleen with all his heart, but all of this upheaval with Noble had caused her to choose sides, reveal her truest feelings about Jonah. She had told Mason not to give Noble the idea that it was okay to take the same path as Jonah. That in itself told him that she didn’t agree with his choice to simply accept Jonah for who he was. She had never displayed open hostility towards him, and had even shown him some level of family acceptance. But what now? In her eyes Jonah had stolen her daughter’s happiness, her future with Noble. Was there now a rift between them that could never be healed? He would not give up his son for anyone.
When the women came into the house, he was still sitting up at the kitchen table, working on a second pot of coffee. He was startled to see Tessa Richman with Rebecca and Colleen. He glanced past them, expecting Alan to walk in behind them. But he didn’t show. Mason stood up slowly. “Tessa. When…did you arrive?” Rebecca had surely called them that morning. “Is Alan with you?” Though he showed respect to the man for Noble’s sake, there was something about Alan Richman he didn’t like, though he couldn’t put his finger on it. Perhaps it was the way that Noble seemed constantly on edge around the man, as if he were afraid of making even the smallest wrong move. That didn’t scream healthy father/son relationship to Mason.
“Yes.” Tessa nodded, and there was a slight stiffness to her tone. Had Rebecca and Colleen filled her in on the stand Mason had taken at the church? “He’s staying with Noble tonight. There’s some things they need to…work out. Talk about.”
That news didn’t set well with Mason at all. He’d half expected Noble to be with Jonah tonight. And he couldn’t help but feel it would have been in Noble’s best interest if he had been. There was no guessing why his parents were here – and it sure as hell wasn’t to support him and help him come to terms with who he was.
“Maybe I should…go over to Noble’s as well.” The boy had to be on the bare edge of another anxiety attack being alone with his dad. He clearly did not feel at ease around the guy.
“Why?” Rebecca asked stiffly. “Alan doesn’t need help talking to his own son. And…” her face tightened. “We already know where you stand, dad. Noble needs actual help. Not someone telling him it’s okay to embrace that sinful lifestyle.”
What Noble needs is all of you off his back. Mason cleared his throat and looked from one to the other. “Maybe everyone just needs to take a step back and face reality here.” He said quietly. “Noble is gay. And you can’t pray that away. It’s just who he is. And it’s who he’s always going to be. And everyone pushing him like this is only going to bring about disastrous results.”
“With all due respect,” Tessa spoke up. “Noble is our son. Perhaps you’re okay with allowing your son to take the path of damnation, but we will do whatever it takes to ensure Noble’s place in heaven.” Her eyes were dull as she added, “Unlike you, Alan is willing to fight for the salvation of his son’s soul. Noble just needs to be set back on the proper path. Alan helped him with that before, when Noble was first struggling with this. And he will help him again.”
Mason just stared at them. You’re all out of your minds. “Is that how you feel?” He looked at Colleen. “That I just let Jonah go down the road to damnation?”
Licking her lips slowly, Colleen asked quietly, “Have you ever tried to discourage his behavior? Explain to him that such a lifestyle is spiritually unhealthy, physically detrimental? I understand your reservations because of what happened to Patrick, but…” she shook her head sadly, “maybe the fact that Patrick took his life because he was gay was actually cause to encourage Jonah away from that path…rather than stepping back and letting him go. Statistics show that suicide rate among gay youth is much higher than among straight youth. How can it be all right to be gay…when kids are killing themselves because of it?”
Mason stared at her, dumbfounded; was she serious? “Kids don’t kill themselves because they are gay, Colleen.” He spoke low, tight, guts twisting with nausea. “But because they can’t handle the bullshit that is thrust on them for being gay, and for being treated like they’re less than human…and for being made to believe that God hates them.”
“And you think he loves what they are?” Rebecca asked. “It goes against God’s own order, against nature. How can you even think-“
“Shut up.” Mason said low, calm. “Just shut up, Rebecca. All of you, you’re just a bunch of hypocrites. You talk about God and the bible as if you actually live up to it. Yet one of the greatest sins is judging others. Jesus never once mentioned homosexuality, but you can bet he talked plenty about loving others, loving your enemies. So tell me…where in all this is the love?” He glanced back and forth between them. “Because I’m sure as hell not seeing it. So don’t talk to me about what God’s word does or doesn’t say. When your lives are squeaky clean, then we’ll talk.” He shook his head. “Until then, in the words of our Lord – Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”
Mason left them staring after him, wondering if – come morning – there would be anything left of his marriage to salvage.
Noble awoke to his father’s distant, muffled voice talking on the phone. He went to roll over and sit up, and cried out as a burning spear of pain stabbed through his ribs. Another less sharp, but equally debilitating pain snapped up his spinal cord then down through his hips. The pain caused the nausea to surface again in an instant and he clenched his jaw, fighting the bile rising in his throat. But it was already at the back of his tongue and despite the agony of movement, he rolled over and grabbed the small wastebasket by the nightstand and wretched into it. Tears welled up and spilled over as the force of the heaving felt as if it were splintering his ribs and chest.
Nothing came out but for some extremely bitter, yellow bile that left a nastier taste in his mouth than normal vomit. His throat burned furiously. He choked on the tears and the disgusting flavor and forced himself out of bed. His lungs labored when he tried to breathe, causing him to cough, which in turn hurt even more. He covered his mouth when a hard cough crushed his chest and he grabbed the door frame with his free hand then uncovered his mouth and looked at his palm; bits of the stale yellow bile mottled his skin along with spittle of blood. Not a lot, but enough to warn him that his dad’s fists may have caused more damage than he’d realized.
In the bathroom, Noble stood before the mirror and lifted his t-shirt. Ugly bruises covered his ribs and stomach. He tentatively touched his right ribs and his body cringed away from the slight pressure and he choked on a cry. Had his dad broken a rib? More than one? He had to take short, shallow breaths just to endure the pain and even that was nearly more than he could bear.
When he returned to his bedroom, he very slowly, very carefully pulled on a long sleeve white shirt and jeans. He didn’t attempt to bend over for his shoes and made his way to the kitchen barefoot.
His dad sat at the table drinking a cup of coffee and reading his bible. Did the man feel any sense hypocrisy as he sat there and pretended to be a man of God? Noble didn’t speak to him but moved slowly to the coffee pot. He’d rinsed with Listerine but the bitter taste of that nasty bile still tainted his mouth and burned his throat. He didn’t know if the coffee would stay down, but he needed something to coat his throat.
The short breaths were beginning to make him feel lightheaded, like he wasn’t getting enough air. But to take deeper breaths would reduce him to tears. He gripped the edge of the counter with one hand as mild dizziness swept over him, and with his other hand poured himself a cup of coffee and began adding cream and sugar.
“How are you feeling this morning?” Alan asked from the table.
Noble frowned. Seriously? He didn’t answer. He could barely fucking breathe, much less carry on a conversation.
“Why don’t you join me for a morning bible study?”
Bible study? Really? “I don’t really…feel up to it.” Noble whispered.
Alan cleared his throat. “Well I’m sure Christ didn’t feel up to being nailed to a cross for a world of ungrateful wretches either, but he still did it.” He slid out an empty chair. “Now sit down.”
Defying his dad could well result in another assault, and he couldn’t take that again, not right now. He carried his coffee cup to the table and sat down with effort, jaw clenching and face pinching, breath puffing short and hard.
“I’m sorry about last night.” His dad offered without a note of remorse. “But you brought this on yourself, Noble. It’s the hard lessons that teach us the most. You understood that when you were a kid. But apparently, lately, you’ve forgotten. It’s my place as your father to get you back on track.”
Fuck you. Noble sipped his coffee, wishing he had the nerve to tell the man off. But he still felt like a kid in his presence, too scared to stand up to him or defy his wishes. So what – you’re going to go along with his wishes for you to marry Rebecca? He couldn’t marry Rebecca. Why she even still wanted to get married was a mystery to him. And did she really want to do it this way? By force? Or did she honestly believe that his dad would get him thinking straight again? Make him forget about Jonah?
All the whispered words, touches, kisses from last night rushed back through his head. After being with Jonah…there is no going back. So lost he was in the memories of last night that he barely heard his dad speaking.
“After we have a little recap of what the word of God says,” Alan told him. “We will go and talk to Rebecca. And you will fix what you fucked up. The wedding will go forth as scheduled. In fact, last night we discussed possibly moving it up to an earlier date. Seems to be in everyone’s best interest.” He reached over and squeezed Noble’s shoulder. “Don’t worry, son. Once you’re settled into your life with Rebecca, you’ll be fine. You’ll see how wonderful it is to have a wife and make love to a woman – as God meant for it to be. I’ve no doubt it will put an end to this…disgusting alternate attraction of yours.”
Noble tipped his head down and stared at his coffee, twisting the cup slowly on the table. His dad could talk until he was blue in the face, but nothing could eradicate from his memory the feel of Jonah’s naked body touching his, their hardened members stroking against one another through his tight fist, that moment of sheer ecstasy and elation and fulfillment when they released in an ultimate expression of love for each other. That moment with Jonah right there assured he would never again even want to be straight.
He listened to his dad recite the scriptures that all anti-gay people insisted confirmed God’s hatred of same-sex relationships. Noble didn’t know anymore how to interpret them, or if they really meant what everyone seemed to think they meant. All he knew was that what he felt with Jonah didn’t feel wrong. In fact, it felt more right than anything he’d ever experienced. He still struggled with what had been rooted into his mind, but his heart was letting go and grabbing onto Jonah. Though even now, his mind tried to hear what his dad was saying, but his memories of last night with Jonah were too fresh, too real, and it warded off the lies and bullshit that had plagued and tortured him all his life.
It seemed like hours before his dad ended his scriptural lecture, though when Noble glanced at the clock it had only been about twenty minutes. Alan closed his bible, rested his hands – one over the other – on top and looked at Noble. “Say it.”
“What?” Noble frowned, air sticking in his throat with every breath. It hurt to sit up and he longed to go back to bed, but was certain his father wouldn’t allow it.
“Say that you’re ready to get your life back on track and forget about…that man.” A measure of disgust tainted his voice. “Commit your life and love to Rebecca – right here, right now, before God. While there’s still a chance for your soul.”
Noble licked his lips slowly. “Dad…” his voice cracked, thickened. Reject Jonah? A sliver of fear pierced his heart at the thought of angering his dad further, but still he added, “I can’t just…make myself stop feeling what I feel for Jonah.”
“It is not natural.” Alan’s face tightened and he gripped Noble’s wrist and squeezed with just enough to force to warn he was serious. “Now do it. Say it.”
“Dad…no.” A tremor coursed through Noble. “I can’t…I won’t. I don’t love Rebecca-” A strangled cry pulled out of him when his dad’s fingers tightened hard around his wrist. “Dad…stop…” Tears rose up fast, burning his eyes.
“No.” Noble cried. “I don’t love her, I love him-” He screamed suddenly as his dad came out of his chair in a hurry and twisted his arm up around behind his back, pushing hard, stressing the joint at an odd angle. Noble screamed again as the pain in his body exploded.
“I will not allow this!” Alan raged, adding pressure to his arm. “You will not soil our family name with this filth! Renounce your homosexuality – or I swear to God I’ll break your fucking arm!”
His vision went blurry as the pain coursed through him and he was sure he would puke again. The pressure on his arm wasn’t letting up and his mind started to black out. “Dad! Stop!” he choked on a swell of foamy saliva gathering in his throat. “Please!” His breath cut out as his chest tightened and his dad shoved him against the table. No air was going in and his lungs burned.
When the phone rang, a sudden, sharp breath managed to suck down his throat, choking him. His dad stiffened, holding him in place. When the answering machine in the living room picked up – Jonah’s voice came through again; ‘Hey sleepy head, I know you’re probably still tired but make sure you’re up and ready to go by noon. I have something to do before I come by and grab you. Damn, I already miss you like crazy, baby. Can’t wait for tonight. See you soon, sexy. I love you.’
Noble strained against his dad’s grip. “Jonah!” he cried out the name in sheer desperation, knowing the man couldn’t hear him but somehow willing him to. In a fit of rage, Alan jerked him up out of the chair and shoved him against the wall next to the kitchen phone. Shocks of blinding pain burst through his body and he dropped to the floor, choking on his cries.
Then his dad was in front of him, clutching his shirt in tight fists, face twisted. “You listen to me, and listen good.” He hissed. “I have enough connections with the right people to bring that faggot’s life to ruin. Unless you wish to be the cause of it, you will cut him out of your life and honor your commitment to your fiancée.” He slammed Noble against the wall, tearing another strangled cry from him. “Are you hearing me?”
“Yes!” Noble choked, vision blackened with pain. His dad’s fists were pushing against his chest, gripping his shirt. The man stood and dragged Noble with him, every movement causing his body to scream.
“Are you sure?”
When a hard fist nailed him up under his right ribs, the room spun and turned black, the pain too much to bear. All strength left him and he fell to the floor, a faint wheezing breath seeping in and out between his lips, eyes blank as all he could see was black. Hot tears poured down his face, pooling on the tiles. And just before the pain sucked him under, a single thought grabbed his mind, and amidst the fear and torment afforded him a measure of comfort.
You just fucked with the wrong man’s boyfriend.
The plain silver band twisted slowly in his fingertips as he sat in his car outside the jewelry shop. Morning sunlight glinted off the flow of cars moving back and forth along the city street. A stray sunray caught the band, glimmering the sleek metal. It wasn’t a wedding band, or an engagement ring – but simply an endless circle of promise. Before he took Noble into his bed – Jonah needed him to fully understand that he meant to stay in his life, that this was for real…and forever. He felt like that was something Noble needed from him before he could truly feel at ease making love to him. Jonah didn’t want a revolving door that would allow him to come and go in Noble’s life as it suited him. He wanted the commitment. Wanted to be locked inside of Noble’s heart, and he didn’t need an exit door; he never meant to leave.
A sudden rap on his window made him jump and swear sharply, nearly dropping the ring. When he saw Keith standing outside his window, he rolled it down. “Shit.” He laughed low. “You startled me.”
Keith squatted next to the car and grinned, “Sorry.” He glanced at the ring, and cocked an eyebrow. “Making plans of your own?”
Chuckling softly, Jonah shrugged. “Eventually.” He looked at the guy as he twisted the ring in slow circles thoughtfully. “If you got a few minutes, do want to grab a drink? There’s actually something I need to talk to you about.”
“Did you find a house?”
“No.” Jonah shook his head, lips pressing tight as he stared at the ring. “It isn’t about that.”
Keith’s brow pinched. “Then what?”
Sighing softly, Jonah met his eyes. “Rebecca.”
© Copyright 2017 AMS1971. All rights reserved.
Book / Gay and Lesbian
Book / Gay and Lesbian
Book / Gay and Lesbian