Trials and Tribulations
Chapter 11: Lessons
“Andy… Andy… ANDY… Are you in there?”
I groaned and turned my head towards the voice.
“Ah, there you are. How are you feeling?”
I opened my eyes to see Nurse Nancy standing beside me.
“Where… where am I?”
“You were brought in to the Emergency Room because of that nasty bump on your head, child.” She took my hand in hers for reassurance. The expression on her face was all knowing. Confidant. “You’ve had a visitation, haven’t you?”
She had opened up to Joey and me about her nephew the last time we spoke, to make us feel comfortable with the fact she knew there was more to us than friendship. There was something good about her. I kind of felt like I was with my mom again, and I figured if I could trust her with my relationship with Joey, I could be honest with her.
She smiled at me, “We’ll talk about it some other time if you want, but for now let’s see how you’re doing.” She checked my vitals, starting with blood pressure.
“How long have I been here? Where am I? Where are my Dad, Joey, and Roger?” I asked in rapid succession.
“Easy child. I will answer them one at a time.”
She finished taking my pulse and checked my temperature.
“You have been unconscious for about three hours now. Your father, your friend, and your boyfriend,” I blushed at the mention of a boyfriend, “are in the waiting room waiting impatiently for me to come and get them. Once we have determined that you are out of the woods, I will call for them.”
She patted my forearm a couple of times. Once she was sure I was comfortable, she hung up my chart at the foot of the bed.
“Now remember to just rest when they visit with you.” She gave me a wink and headed out the door.
She knew I had a vision. She knew I had spoken to someone, but she couldn’t know it was mom, could she? Maybe she meant the light that appeared to me in the nurse’s office. For the life of me, I just couldn’t figure out how she knew about either of them.
The door opened. Dad walked in and the paleness in his face showed his concern. He maneuvered himself over to the side of the bed where I had an IV running into my arm and rested his hand in mine. He reached out with his other hand, brushed my hair off my brow, and kissed my forehead.
“I love you, Andy.” His eyes were the same as mom’s, filled with the wash of unconditional love. “You gave us a scare. How are you feeling, son?”
“My head hurts a little.”
Being so glad to see my Dad and feeling safe with him here now, I just realized that dad came alone. Dad was a sharp man, not much escaped him. He smiled at me as he took his seat.
“Don’t worry son, they’ll be here in a second. I asked them to give me some time with you first. After all, I am your father.”
He pulled the chair up close to the bed and wrapped my hand in both of his. I noticed the concern play out on his face. When he spoke, it was gentle. “Do you feel ready to tell me what happened?”
I cleared my throat.
“It was JT. I kinda knew something bad would happen today. While Joey and I walked to my locker, I was telling him about the dream I had when JT and his friends approached, and one of them pushed me head first into the lockers. When I looked up from the floor, JT had a hold of Joey, and he was choking him with his forearm. Jonas and Kevin were the other two with him. I dunno, Dad. Before I knew what was happening I hit JT. I couldn’t help myself, Dad. Roger tackled Jonas and Kevin ran away like the coward he is. This is the second time JT has attacked us, Dad. I was about to finish JT off when Joey stopped me.”
“Joey stopped you?”
“It was so surreal. I heard someone say ‘stop’ just as I was about to hit JT again. It was like a voice that commanded it obeyed. I turned and realized that it had been Joey that had told me to stop. He placed his hand on my chest and suddenly all the anger was gone. Just like that. Then he did an even stranger thing. He forgave JT. He said he understood that it wasn’t JT, but his father who put him up to this. He forgave the jerk, Dad. Even helped him up.”
“And JT didn’t fight back?”
“Nope. He was shaking, like he was shocked, but the moment Joey reached out to help him. The moment their hands touched, Dad, it was like, like he was at peace. All calm. He couldn’t understand why Joey had forgiven him and Joey simply said to him that he understood. The next thing he apologized and walked off as though nothing had happened.”
“Well, son, if Joey had not stopped you there would have been hell at school today.”
“Dad, I don’t understand this myself and I don’t expect you to understand. I’m sure Joey will explain later.”
“He’s a fine boy, Andy. He’s been through hell and back, and maybe he understands that what is happening is because certain people have no control over their lives. They are controlled by what others say and do.”
“Maybe so, Dad, but something even stranger happened in the ambulance.”
He raised an eyebrow. “Go ahead, son.”
With tears in my eyes, I told him about Mom appearing to me and what she had said. After talking for twenty minutes or so about what he called my visions, he stood up to leave. His eyes were misty and at the door, he took a moment to compose himself.
“I’m going to get Roger and Joey, and let them come in and visit awhile.” He wiped the tears from his eyes before he spoke again. “Now, you and Joey don’t get carried away. You need to take it easy for a few days,” he chuckled and winked at me, then left.
I rolled my eyes and wanted to throw something at the door, but instead, I grinned at the thought of me and Joey getting carried away.
I was alone, and in the next few minutes, I made peace with God. I prayed he would understand why I had been mad at Him, thanked Him for letting me see Mom, and asked Him to watch over my family and loved ones. I asked that He guide me, to help me limit my mistakes. I had just said ‘Amen’ when the door opened.
“Andy, are you okay?” Joey asked, rushing to my side. He took my hand and held it tightly. His forehead was creased with worry lines. Tears ran a fine film over his eyes. Roger, beside Joey, nodded a greeting.
“Yes, babe, I’m okay.” I squeezed his hand.
Roger leaned over, his face tight with concern. “What did the doctors say?”
“I don’t know. I haven’t seen any since I’ve been awake.”
Joey lightly kissed my lips, like he was afraid to hurt me, but God, that felt so awesome. It pumped strength and health into me, like someone had shot adrenalin into my veins. I felt much better, and stronger. I wrapped my free arm around Joey’s neck and kissed him passionately. It wasn’t a tongue wrestling, spit swapping kiss; it was sweet and tender and it showed how we felt about each other.
When we broke the kiss, he stood up all red faced, but his eyes were full of love and adoration. Roger grinned and Joey blushed brighter than ever before. I looked down at his crotch and noticed he was harder than a rock. As I looked closer, I knew it wasn’t just from being hard that had him so embarrassed. His pants had a slowly growing wet spot. He had shot his load just from our kiss alone. It was then that I realized my tummy was covered in jazz too.
“Wow! That was some kiss.” Roger said, and patted Joey on the back. His eyes scanned my body and stopped at the tented sheet. He turned away from me, trying to suppress a laugh, but he wasn’t successful. I glared back, but he was trying really hard to stop laughing.
With his face as red as a fire truck and a grin that cut across his face from ear to ear, Joey just shrugged, causing us both to laugh wildly, joining in with Roger. Oh God, it hurt my head, but it felt so good.
After we all calmed down, I squeezed Joey’s hand. “Babe, you better clean up the best you can, and when you finish,” I said, “bring me back something to wipe my tummy.” I winked.
Joey released my hand and retreated to the bathroom, closing the door behind him. Roger sat down in the chair dad had been sitting in earlier, shaking his head, and still chuckling.
The smile and the jokes faded quickly. I felt nervous about what Roger was thinking.
“You sure you’re okay?” He paused until I nodded. “You passed out on us twice; once in the nurse’s office, and again in the ambulance.” He paused again, shuffled the chair closer to the bed, and put his hand on mine. “You scared me in the ambulance, Andy. The EMT thought he’d lost you. He said something about you going into shock and that your vitals were crashing.”
A tear streaked down his cheek. I turned my hand over and took his. I squeezed it and he dropped his head, as if humbled.
“Andy, I love you bro. I don’t want to lose you. You’re more than my best friend, we’re brothers.” When he spoke, it was clear that he was losing the battle to hold back a sob.
“I love you too, Roger. You have always been there for me. You were there for me this morning. You’re right; I love you more than just a best friend.” I paused “We are brothers.” We both squeezed the others hand and shed a few tears together. This was becoming an emotional morning for me.
Just then, Joey returned. He knew that Roger and I had just had a special moment by the understanding turn of his lips.
He stood on the opposite side of the bed and discreetly passed me a towel. I lifted the covers a little, and cleaned off my tummy and the gown I had on. It hit me then that someone had undressed me and put me in this hospital gown. Once I was done, Joey took the towel back to the bathroom.
Dad returned with the doctor, the same doctor that had examined Joey the previous week. He took my chart and read it. Then he checked my pulse, took my blood pressure, and paused every few minutes to write something down. We watched him in silence.
“Open,” he said, and stuck a thermometer under my tongue.
He pulled it out, examined it, and wrote on my chart. After removing the IV from my arm, he asked, “how are you feeling, Andy?”
“There’s just a slight ache where I hit my head.”
“That’s good.” He smiled, and then turned to Dad standing beside him. “The x-rays came back negative for concussion. I believe that once he settled down from the fight, there was the realization of what could have happened, and it scared him enough that he went into shock. While in the nurse’s office, his system fought back and rebounded. However, when he realized he was being taken to the hospital, he went into shock again.” He turned and gazed at me, “You should thank the EMT for stabilizing you en-route, young man. He probably saved your life.” He looked at my dad before he continued, “Now, with the x-ray and the fact his vitals have returned to normal, I’m going to release him on the condition he takes it easy the rest of the week. That means nothing strenuous; no sports, and no tree climbing,” he glanced at Joey, “and no extracurricular activities.”
Both Joey and I blushed. Dad and Roger chuckled.
Dad shook his hand and thanked him. The doctor told him he would fill out the paper work and a nurse would bring the papers for him to sign.
Before he left, he turned to me and put a hand on my arm.
“Andy, you seem like a really good boy. And I would love to get to know you, but we have to stop meeting like this,” he paused, “while we are getting the paperwork taken care of, you may dress. Your clothes are hanging over there in the closet,” he pointed towards the closet. “I mean it, for the next few days, you are to take it easy, and let’s hope there aren’t any hidden injuries.” Turning back to dad he said, “Someone will be with you in a few minutes.”
“Thank you, doctor.” Dad said, shaking his hand.
Dad glanced at me, “Go ahead and get dressed, Andy. I’ll step out and give you some privacy. You seem to have enough help here.”
“Extracurricular activities!” Roger laughed. “You’re lucky he didn’t catch the kiss and the aftermath.” He laughed harder and rolled off the chair onto the floor. Once again proving to me someone could ROTFLMAO. I looked over at Joey and rolled my eyes. He grinned and extended his hand to help me off the bed.
I had finished dressing when Dad and Nurse Nancy returned.
She nodded at Joey and said, “Don’t forget to come by the clinic Wednesday, Joey. We have to see if you are healing properly. Are you changing the bandages twice a day?”
“Yes ma’am, and the last couple of days they have been a lot less, umm…messy, when we take them off.”
“Good, good. Then I look forward to seeing you Wednesday.” Turning to me, she continued, “and you too, Andy. The doctor wants to see you both, Joey at 3:30 and you at 4:00. Are those appointment times okay?”
“Yes ma’am.” I answered.
Dad said, “Someone will pick them up from school and have them at the clinic on time.”
“If Andy has any pain, the doctor advised acetaminophen, just the regular strength. Don’t worry about the stitches; they’ll dissolve in about a week, and be sure to keep the area clean. Does anyone have any questions?”
She took her time and made sure she got an answer from Dad, Roger, and Joey, and then she glanced at me.
“No ma’am.” I said.
“Good,” she smiled. “The orderly will be in shortly to help you to your vehicle.” Pointing at Joey and me, “I’ll see you two Wednesday.” I wondered what she would have to say the next time we met. She turned her focus to dad, “Judge, if you like, by the time you pull your car around, they should be there.”
“Thank you. I’ll see you boys out front.” They left together as the three of us waited for the orderly.
At home, Joey and Roger helped me upstairs. Joey propped up the pillows so I could sit up with my back against the headboard and they sat on the bed Indian style, facing me.
I told them about the dream and vision. I explained what the figure in it had said to me, including how I had lost faith, and that it was time to believe again. Then I told them about mom coming to me. It wasn’t easy to tell them what she told me, how she held me, or how I felt about the whole thing. They sat wide-eyed as I told my story, but I could tell they believed every word.
“Wow, Andy, I’m glad you got to speak to your mom again. That’s so cool.” Joey smiled and held my hand. His gentle presence made me feel safe.
“I’m glad too, Andy.” Roger said with a tear in his eye. He had loved my mother, like a second mother, just like I loved Aunt Alice. I knew he missed her, too. “It makes me happy she’s in heaven, she deserves it.” Roger’s voice was choked with emotion, and he tried not to sniffle.
Dad stopped at the door, and looked in. “Boys, Andy needs to rest after today’s events.”
“Okay, Uncle Sam.” Roger said, climbing off the bed. Joey did too, but stayed behind as Dad and Roger walked downstairs.
He leaned over and gave me a butterfly kiss. “That’s all you get, cutie.” He said with a smile. “I can’t go home with my pants showing like they did at the hospital.” He grinned.
“That’ll keep me until the next kiss.” I winked. “I love you Joey, forever.”
“I love you too, Andy, forever and always.”
Judge Daniel Whitt entered his closed courtroom and the bailiff instructed everyone rise. There were two defendants, who sat alone at the defense table, and two attorneys sat at the prosecution table. Behind them was Miss Anderson from the Department of Community Based Services. After the judge had taken his place, he motioned for them to be seated.
He turned to the Commonwealth attorney, “This hearing is for the purpose of determining bail. Who are these other people with the Commonwealth?”
“Your Honor, Tom Smith, representing the Commonwealth, and on my right is Carl Bennett, attorney for the victim. Seated behind me is Miss Anderson, Child Protective Services.” The assistant commonwealth attorney answered. “It is the Commonwealth’s position that neither of the two defendants receive bail due to the ruthless, brutal nature of their multiple assaults over several months and the felony child neglect after the severe injuries the victim sustained, by not allowing any medical attention be given for the same injuries.”
Judge Whitt nodded, turned towards the defendants, and said, “Mr. and Mrs. Adams, do you have counsel?”
“No, sir,” Pastor Adams answered the judge solemnly.
“Mr. Adam, when addressing this court, you will stand.” The judge advised him.
The pastor slowly rose, with his back straight, and his chin held high, “I’m sorry Sir, I didn’t know. I’ve never been in a courtroom before. As a God fearing man, I’ve always been on the right side of man’s law. As the Lord said, ‘Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.’ I pay my taxes, obey the speed laws, I do not…”
The judge interrupted the pastor.
“Mr. Adams, do you understand the charges being brought against you?”
“No, Sir. I do not understand at all. I’ve committed no crime. Yet, I have been thrown into jail, just like Saint Paul and Saint Peter. All I did was to try to turn my wayward son from a life of sin. Our country is being torn asunder by the wicked, foul, disgusting homosexuals that are an abomination before God. I did what any God fearing father would have done. I laid down the law in a way my son would never forget. The evil acts he was committing are sinful, and that the road he was on was leading to damnation.”
The judge’s eyes narrowed, “Is it by choice that neither of you are represented by counsel?”
“That is correct. We don’t feel we need a lawyer, since we have done nothing wrong.”
“It is always wise to have an attorney when you are involved in a court proceeding. If you cannot afford an attorney, the court can appoint one for you. Are you sure?” The judge waited until both of them said yes.
“Very well,” turning to the commonwealth attorney he said, “what is the Commonwealth’s recommendation?”
Standing up, Mr. Smith said, “Your Honor, the Commonwealth recommends, no bail in this case. However, if one must be granted, we recommend a one million dollar cash bond on Mr. Adams, and a five hundred thousand dollar cash bond on Mrs. Adams. We also recommend an order that neither defendant have any contact with the victim; a five hundred foot restraining order, and a gag order placed on both defendants from speaking publicly about this case, which includes said church. We also request an order that the Commonwealth, through Child Protective Services, be given temporary custody of the minor victim until this case has been decided. At which time, the foster family presently housing Joseph Matthew Adams, the minor victim in this case, may wish to proceed with adoption of said minor.” He paused, looked at both Mr. Bennett and Miss Anderson. After receiving a nod from both, he turned to the judge and said, “I believe that covers everything for the Commonwealth at this time.”
“How in heavens name am I supposed to come up with a million dollars?” The pastor screamed at the prosecution. His face had become red and his hands gripped the edge of the table in front of him. Mrs. Adams sat quietly and glanced up at her husband as though in shock.
“Order!” The judge banged his gavel. “I will not allow any outbursts in my courtroom!” He leaned forward, giving the pastor a stern look, and then he turned to the state attorney before he continued. “However, he makes a very good point.”
“Your Honor, we have documented medical evidence that Mr. Adams, routinely beat his son with such severity that the boy has suffered broken bones, welts, and bruises from months of abuse. Mrs. Adams witnessed these beatings and did nothing to stop them, nor did she bother to have her son treated by a doctor afterwards, and she never reported these beatings to anyone. In fact, she assisted in the cover-up of the crimes. Therefore, your Honor, she is a co-conspirator in this case.”
“Your Honor,” the pastor rose to address the judge. The earlier anger had faded and now his approach was meek.
“Mr. Adams, you may address the court concerning the bond.”
“Your Honor, my wife and I have done nothing wrong here. A million dollar bond, they say?” He glanced first at his wife then across to the table of lawyers sitting on the other side of the room. “Are they out of their minds? I don’t know what my lying faggot son has told them, but all we did was to try and correct his life-style. I’m flabbergasted at the amount of money they want for just applying the rod instead of spoiling the child. Besides, doing the Lord’s work does not pay that kind of money, at least not here in Eastern Kentucky.”
Judge Whitt sat back. The courtroom was silent. There was a look of concern on his face as he turned and focused on the Commonwealth Attorney. “Were photographs taken in this case?”
“Yes, your Honor. May I approach?”
Mr. Smith picked up a folder and gave it to the judge. Without betraying his thoughts, Judge Whitt looked through the folder, returned it to Mr. Smith, and with a wave of his hand, motioned for him to retake his seat.
A light knocking on my open bedroom door woke me. I rolled over and looked up, and saw dad standing there with a smile on his face.
“What would you like for supper, Andy?”
“What time is it?” I asked, rubbing the sleep from my eyes.
“It’s six o’clock. Do you feel well enough to have pizza for dinner?” He asked, knowing I would never turn down a pizza.
“Um… I don’t know Dad.”
He rolled his eyes, turned, and went downstairs. Suddenly, I felt very hungry. I guess my attitude backfired on me. I quickly got out of bed and followed him downstairs.
After dinner, we sat in the living room watching the Reds get beat again when there was a knock at the front door. Dad told me he would see who it was, and handed me the TV remote. I heard voices and turned off the TV, and was just about get up when Joey stepped into the room. The Banks family were behind Dad.
Joey sat down beside me on the couch. Roger took a seat on the other side of me. The adults walked off into another room, leaving us alone. Joey took my hand and stared into my eyes.
“How are you feeling, Andy?”
“I’m good, why?” I looked over at Roger to see if something was going on.
“Roger and I have been talking about what you told us this afternoon. He also told me about some of the stuff you went through, a couple of years ago.” Joey squeezed my hand.
A tear slipped down my cheek and dropped onto my arm. I forced myself to look at Joey, the tears in my eyes ready to follow the first that had fallen. Roger wrapped his arm around my shoulders and his head came to rest against mine. A sob exploded from deep within me and I lay my head against Joey’s chest as he wrapped his arms around me too.
There we three sat, Joey and Roger comforting me, knowing that I needed a release of the emotions that had built up within me since mom’s death. My best friend and my boyfriend realized that I had refused to acknowledge my pain that had been growing since she died. My visions had chipped away at the dam holding my emotions back, and now, they broke through the dam, like a mighty rushing river, because the two guys I loved, one as a soul mate and the other like a brother, knew me better than I knew myself. All it took was to be embraced by their love and understanding.
My mother’s death had affected me far more than I had let on. Even my recovery with my shrink’s help hadn’t been as complete as I had allowed my family to believe. I guess the reason had been that I hadn’t grieved the way I needed to, and it was still bottled up inside me. I had thought, by not accepting her death that she didn’t go through the pain she had in the end, and she wasn’t gone at all. I realized it was foolish to pretend she was still there, like she had never died, but it was my way of coping with it. Now, well now I knew she wasn’t in pain and happy. Mom was happy and still there! Though it wasn’t the way I had pretended it to be, but it was even better this way. She WAS in Heaven, and of that, I had no doubt.
My mother and Joey had both given me a gift today. Joey showed me that forgiveness could change lives. My mom, through the seemingly impossible way she had spoken with me, reassured me, and showed me that nothing is impossible with love. The lessons they taught me are ones I will always strive to keep.
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