I attended classes with Jade and Sydney. As I expected them to do, they smothered me with their motherly attention. They wouldn’t let me out of their sight, and they even waited for me outside the men’s restroom. I don’t know if they thought I would hurt myself, or if they just wanted to make sure I was safe.
Seth joined us late in the afternoon after all our classes had ended. We went to a campus pizza parlor and sat in a booth at the back. Since it was still too early for dinner, the place was sparsely populated with diners. We could talk without having to yell over the noise of others.
As soon as we sat down, Seth stared at me. I knew what he wanted. I had left him in the dark when I darted from the student union, and Jade and Sydney hadn’t told me how much information they had given him. After the waiter took our order, I looked over at him. “I’m Dorian Gale. My father is Senator Jonathan Gale. He could possibly be the next vice president of the United States.”
Seth nodded and then said, “But I still don’t get why that bothers you. Hell, if my old man was going to be vice president, I would be proud.”
“You don’t understand,” I sighed as Jade took my hand and squeezed it. “I’m gay.”
“Duh. I know that,” Seth laughed. “But I still don’t see why...” Suddenly, he sat back and stared at me. It was as if a light bulb had suddenly gone off over his head. “Shit! Senator Gale, poster child for the anti-gay, anti-women, anti-everything movement in America.”
“Bingo,” announced Jade with a laugh. “Now you see why Dorian is so upset.”
“I don’t mean to be rude, Dorian,” remarked Seth, “but your old man is a real son of a bitch. My dad’s conservative, but even your father is too far to the right for him.”
Sydney asked worriedly, “So what do you think is going to happen next?”
“Mom wants me to come home,” I announced.
“What!” Jade shrieked. “They can’t make you do that, can they? School just started.”
I shrugged my shoulders. “I don’t know.” I looked intently into their eyes. “Listen, Guys. I don’t want you involved. I’ve dealt with this before, and it can get messy. You’ve got your futures to think about.”
“Bullshit!” exclaimed Jade. She held my right hand, while Sydney took my left. Sydney reached over and grasped Seth’s hand. “We’re not going to turn our backs on you, Dorian. We’re with you.” She looked over at Sydney and Seth who nodded their heads. “No matter what happens.”
“Just do me a favor?” They looked questioningly at me. “If anyone from the media approaches you, don’t talk to them.”
“I’ll tell them to go fuck themselves,” laughed Jade. “I’ve wanted to do that for years.”
I looked over at Seth. “Please don’t tell the guys at the dorm about any of this, okay?”
“You got it,” he smiled. “Besides, I don’t talk to those morons anymore.”
I stood, picked up my backpack and announced I had to go to the library to get some work done. It was useless to try to do anything in my room. At least the library would be quiet.
“I’ll go with you,” volunteered Jade as she stood beside me and looked down at Sydney and Seth. “You in?”
Seth took Sydney’s hand and held it. “I think we’ll stay here for a while.” Jade looked at me and winked. Sydney’s face reddened, and she gave us a pleading look. We laughed and walked away.
The library was crowded when we entered. We found an empty table on the second floor by a window overlooking the campus. Jade sat beside me as we took out our laptops and started working on an English assignment.
After working for a few minutes, my mind began to wander back to my encounter with Wes. I was still confused why he kissed me. Maybe I just appeared vulnerable, and he thought it was something I needed; like when a mother kisses an injured knee to make the pain go away. It was so spontaneous. I do not think either of us even considered it before he leaned toward me. I kept telling myself it was wrong because Wes said he had a boyfriend. However, I knew it was more than that. I think I was afraid.
I looked over at Jade and asked, “Can I ask you something?” My face started to redden because I hadn’t mentioned Wes to Jade yet, and I knew she would kid me when I did.
I knew I was doomed when her eyes started to twinkle as she scooted her chair nearer to mine. “This must be good,” she giggled. “You’re blushing.”
“Shut up,” I laughed and rolled my eyes. “I’m being serious.”
She smiled and sat back. “Okay, Dorian. Let’s have it.”
I then told her about my chance encounter with Wes the night before. She didn’t think it was strange for him to approach me and start talking. After all, she said that times had changed and people were a little more open about their sexuality. Naturally, she wanted to know how cute he was, and if our meeting could be more than just a passing flirtation. She seemed disappointed when I told her he said he had a boyfriend.
Then I told her how I broke down and started crying. I became embarrassed when I told her about the kiss we shared. “He kissed you!” she shouted. We looked around at the students sitting beside us to make sure none of them heard her outburst.
“Yeah,” I admitted embarrassedly. “I don’t think he really meant to. It just sort of happened.”
“You don’t just sort of happen to kiss someone,” she replied. “Not a total stranger, anyway.”
“We weren’t exactly strangers,” I reminded Jade. “We had been talking for about an hour.”
“Still,” she said. “He must have really liked you. Maybe you should see him again.”
I replied sadly, “I don’t have his number. I left before he gave it to me.” I then told her how I had freaked out after he kissed me and hurried back to my dorm.
“We’ve got to find him,” she said excitedly.
“How?” I asked. “There’s like over twenty thousand people on campus. It would be like finding a needle in a haystack.”
“You can’t just give up, Dorian,” she insisted emphatically. “This Wes guy could be a keeper.”
“He said he already has a boyfriend,” I reminded her. “Besides, it was probably nothing anyway. Just forget I mentioned it, okay?”
She sat back and replied dejectedly, “Okay. But if you ever see him again, at least talk to him.” I nodded my head, and we continued working on our assignments. Occasionally, Jade would look over and give me a worried look. I assured her that I would be all right, but I don’t think I was very convincing.
We studied for another hour, and then Jade called Sydney to see if she and Seth wanted to join us for dinner later. She started giggling when she hung up. “What?” I asked.
She laughed, “I think Sydney was in Seth’s dorm room.”
“So,” I replied. “I’ve visited you in your room before.”
She looked around the library before replying, “Do you think they’re doing it yet?”
My face started to blush when I thought of Sydney and Seth in bed together. “What if they are,” I responded. “I don’t think it’s any of our business.”
She sighed, “We gotta get laid, Dorian. It’s been months since I’ve...”
I grabbed my ears and started singing, “LaLaLaLa.” Several students glanced over at us and gave me a puzzled look.” I pushed away from the table and stood. “I’m going to my dorm. I’ll see you at dinner.” I picked up my computer and headed out of the library. Jade hurried up and walked beside me.
“Don’t you ever get the urge to....”
“Jade!” I stopped and shouted. “Would you shut up!”
Jade studied me a minute and then exclaimed, “Dorian, you’re a virgin!” My face turned bright red as I looked around to see if anyone heard her. “You’re nineteen, and you’ve never been laid?”
I shouted, “Jade!” I then turned and headed out of the library. She ran up beside me, grabbed my arm and stopped me.
“I know we gotta find you somebody now,” she insisted. “No wonder you’re so edgy all the time.”
“I’m not edgy all the time,” I huffed as I again walked away.
“Sure you are,” she replied as she caught up with me. “You need a good fuck.”
“That’s it!” I turned toward her and shouted. I looked down at my small, thin body. “Besides,” I said sadly. “Who would want me?”
“You’re kidding, right?” Jade asked. “You’re probably one of the cutest guys on this campus.”
“That’s just it, Jade,” I replied. “I’m cute. No guy wants a cute boyfriend. Not one like me, anyway.” I turned and walked away. Jade hurried up beside me, but she didn’t mention sex again.
As we approached the dorm, I noticed my father’s limousine parked out front. There was a state patrol car and a large black SUV behind it. “Shit,” I hissed.
Jade asked, “Is that your father?” The back door opened, and my father emerged from the car. Carlton got out and stood beside him. I wanted to turn and run, but my father motioned for me to come over to the car.
“You’d better go,” I warned Jade. “I don’t want him to question you.”
“Will you be all right?”
“He’s my father,” I laughed. “Besides, there’s a police officer with him.” Jade gave me a light kiss on the cheek and headed toward the dorm. She kept turning to make sure I was safe.
Finally, I took a deep breath and approached the car. The expression on my father’s face indicated he wasn’t in a good mood. I walked over and stood beside Carlton. I jumped nervously when my father ordered me to, “Get in the car.” He turned and climbed into the back of the limousine.
I wanted to walk away, but I knew he would follow me and make a spectacle. Besides, several students were milling about wondering why a black limousine was parked outside the dorm. When I heard someone say excitedly, “That’s Senator Gale!” I decided I should comply without making a further scene.
I climbed into the back and sat on the side seat facing away from him. He ordered Carlton to drive away, but he didn’t give him any directions. I didn’t know if he planned to take me back home, or if he came to talk.
I jumped from my seat when he barked, “What the hell is going on with you?” I looked over as his eyes narrowed in anger.
“What do you mean, Sir?” I responded timidly.
I jumped again when he shouted, “What do I mean? What made you think you could talk to your mother like you did?”
I hung my head and muttered, “Sorry, Sir.” I looked toward the front to see Carlton watching the exchange through the rearview mirror.
I cringed in my seat when my father rose and sat down beside me. He grabbed my arm and squeezed it tightly. “Listen, you little faggot,” he spat. “I’ve got a good chance of becoming vice president. I have worked my whole goddamned life to get in this position. If you do any fucking thing to ruin my chances, you’ll rue the day you were ever born.” I winced from the pain when he squeezed my arm tighter. “Do you understand me?”
Tears welled up in my eyes as I looked at the cold, steely expression on his face. “Well!” he hollered.
“Yes, Sir,” I remarked meekly. He pushed me away as he moved back to his seat.
“I mean it, Dorian,” he warned. “I don’t give a goddamn if you are gay. However, you better not make this a campaign issue.” I looked over as he sat back and appeared to relax. “The slightest situation can ruin a campaign. I’ve got an image to uphold. I don’t want this gay thing to embarrass me. Do you understand?”
I held my head down as I replied, “Yes, Father.” I had to fight away tears. I knew he would see them as a weakness. He always hated me when I cried, even as a little boy. “Real men don’t cry,” were words I often heard when I could feel tears emerging. I would usually run to my room so he wouldn’t spank me.
He leaned forward and spoke to me as he would one of his advisors. “This is what I want you to do.” I looked at him and nodded. “I’m going to let you stay in school, at least for the time being. You attend classes and keep your grades up.” I again nodded. “And most importantly, I don’t want you to talk to anyone from the media, not even the paper here on campus. If I so much as see you on television or read an article in the paper, then I’m sending Carlton to come get you. Do you understand?”
“Yes, Sir,” I responded as I looked toward the front of the car at Carlton.
“I mean it, Son,” he warned again. “Go to classes and keep a low profile. I’m going to have Dr. Avery keep me apprised of what is happening here.” He looked toward the front and barked out, “Carlton, take us back to the dorm.” Carlton nodded and headed back toward campus.
It was an uncomfortable silence for the next ten minutes. My father had indicated to me what he wanted. No more needed to be said. I was just glad that he had decided to let me remain at school. I now had to be careful because my father never made idle threats. If anything happened that would draw attention, then I knew I could expect Carlton to appear with orders to pack up and leave.
Carlton stopped the car about a block from the dorm. I guess he didn’t want other students to see me emerge from the limousine. As I climbed out of the car, my father warned, “Remember what I said.”
As I approached, Jade, Sydney and Seth were sitting outside the dorm on a concrete wall. They jumped off when they saw me. “Are you okay?” Jade asked worriedly as they gathered around me.
“Yeah,” I replied. “Dad’s going to let me stay in school.” Then I added, “At least for now.”
“What’s that mean?” Sydney asked. “For now?”
I replied snidely, “I have to be the dutiful son. He doesn’t want me to do anything to draw attention to myself.”
Jade asked, “What would you do anyway? You never do anything.”
“Thanks,” I laughed. “That sounded encouraging.”
She slapped me on my arm. “You know what I mean.”
“Well,” I replied. “As long as I’m a good boy and I don’t act gay, then he’s going to leave me alone.”
“He said that?” Seth stared disbelievingly. “He told you not to act gay?”
“After he called me a faggot,” I responded.
“What!” Jade shouted. “He called you that?” She shook her head. “What a prick.”
“Yeah,” I remarked sadly. “Good old Dad.” Just then, my stomach started to growl. I grabbed it and announced, “I’m hungry. Let’s go get something to eat.” I could tell that Jade and Sydney were still upset as we made dinner plans. I think Seth just wanted to hit my father. I was going to warn him that Dad was always protected by state patrol, and now he had a secret service detail.
However, all I had to do was what he wanted. He had worked all his life to get into the position he was now in. He had been an influential senator, and he had gained national recognition even before he was selected to be Gov. Caswell’s running mate. I had always stayed in the background, and he rarely intervened in my life. As long as I remained the dutiful son, then he wouldn’t interfere.
However, I knew that could be difficult. Now that my father was a vice presidential candidate, his life would be put under a microscope. Campaigns could be nasty. I had seen it happen during his senate elections. However, my father’s powerful influence was able to prevent most damaging issues to be vetted. A call to the editor of a newspaper who planned to expose some questionable issue was quickly halted. Now, it was a different ballgame. He couldn’t control his opponent’s investigations. They would leave no stone unturned; and considering my father’s homophobic past statements, I could be a target of his hypocrisy.
After a rather somber dinner, I returned to my dorm. I had finished most of my assignments working with Jade in the library earlier, but I still needed to do some more research for a paper I was writing for my sociology class.
The door was opened as I approached. Again, loud music came booming into the hallway. I stopped briefly, sighed and entered the room. Travis, Raleigh and two other guys were there. Raleigh’s huge body was spread across my bed. Another guy, large and rather unattractive, was sitting at my desk.
“There he is,” announced Travis when he noticed me. “The Senator’s son.” My heart started pounding because they had discovered who I was. He stood, approached me and poked his finger into my chest. “You could have told me, Fucker.”
“Daddy’s got a nice ride,” boomed Raleigh’s voice. “Must be fucking nice to ride around in a fucking limo.” He jumped off the bed and stood before me. “You’ll have to give us a ride in it sometime. The chicks will go nuts.” The others laughed and yelled their approval.
I turned to leave, but Raleigh blocked the door. “Where you going, Rich Boy? We ain’t good enough for you?”
“Leave me alone.” I pleaded as I tried to walk around him. He moved further back and stood in the doorway.
He sneered and asked, “Or what? You going to call your daddy? You gonna have the secret service body slam us to the ground?” He looked out into the hallway. “Where are the men in black suits?” The other guys started laughing and taunting me.
Travis stood before me. “Sit down, Dorian.” He grabbed my arm and led me over to my desk chair. He then looked at the others. “This might just work out in our favor.” He looked down at me and smiled. “Our boy here can set us up with some booze and some funk ass weed. I bet he has a lot of connections.” He looked down and asked, “Right?”
I stood and attempted to leave. “I don’t know anyone,” I insisted. “Besides, I don’t drink or smoke.”
Raleigh stepped up to me. “I guess it’s time you learned then.” He thrust a beer at me, and I pushed it away.
“I don’t drink,” I responded nervously. I tucked my laptop tightly under my arm and rushed for the door. I was able to leave without anyone stopping me. As I hurried down the hall, I could hear them laughing.
“Why?” I asked myself as I walked around campus. It was getting colder, and I wasn’t wearing a jacket. The hoodie I had bought earlier was in my closet in the dorm. I couldn’t understand why things were happening to me. I had never understood my life. Since a young boy, I had lived a sheltered life- an almost non-existent one. I had gone through high school as a non-entity because that was the way my parents wanted me to live it. Now at college, I was hoping to become my own man, away from my father’s influence. However, I was becoming increasingly tangled in his affairs.
I had only been on campus a week, and I was already becoming accustomed to solitary walks late at night. It was the only time I could find peace. I was beginning to enjoy my friendship with Jade, Sydney and Seth. However, I still needed to discover who I was so that I could offer them something other than the empty shell that I presently inhabited.
At nineteen, I still didn’t know who Dorian Gale actually is. I knew how others perceived me because I was programmed to be that person. However, there was more to me that needed to be discovered. I needed to find me. My present circumstances, however, were thwarting that discovery.
As I walked alone under a full moon shining brightly on the manicured lawn, I considered the possibility of leaving school. It would be easy to run away to a large city and become swallowed up in the mass of humanity. My father might even encourage me to do that. He would gladly fund my expenses if it meant keeping me from becoming a delicate situation.
I stopped and sat under a large tree. I used my laptop to check on flights to Los Angeles and Miami. I could call a cab, and within a few hours I could disappear and no one would know- or probably care.
However, something stirred within me, a feeling that is hard to describe. It was a determination to be more than what I now was. It was like an awakening within my spirit, a refusal to acquiesce to my present existence. If I was ever going to become a man, I needed to take a stand. My survival depended on it.
However, all I needed to do was find the strength necessary to become that man.