The Telling of our Pasts

Tyler came to the coffee house each night that I worked. I would have been uncomfortable about that but he didn't pester me while I was working and he actually did order a drink or two. By Wednesday night he was asking me when I could go out with him. I was off on Thursdays but I'd already promised to have dinner with Brian and Ian. I told him that we could do something on Saturday night or any time on Sunday. Then he was gone and I could think again. It occurred to me that the fact that I had trouble thinking about the simplest of things when Tyler was around wasn't a good thing. I was doing a damned good job of keeping myself from being affected by him.

The next day I found Brian waiting for me after my last class of the day. We stopped by my dorm room so I could drop of my books and then headed for Santucci's, an Italian restaurant on the other side of town. Brian said he liked that restaurant because it was rarely ever busy and we'd have enough privacy. He called Ian as soon as we left the dorms and told him to meet us there. I had wondered why Ian wasn't with Brian when we met up at the university.

"He was working at the Student Union," Brian explained. "That's how he's paying for his tuition."

"I never thought about how he would pay for tuition at Storyville University," I replied. "I thought you said he is the son of a wealthy family."

"I did say that," he said slowly. "There's a lot to talk about. We should probably wait for Ian to get here before we talk about his situation."

"Sorry," I said, realizing that I'd just asked a personal question without intending to.

I hadn't given much thought to Ian's situation. Brian had told me that he was the son of a wealthy lawyer but he hadn't said anything further. Of course I didn't ask about his tuition because it was never my business. Learning that Ian was involved in the work study program reminded me that taking things for granted wasn't such a good idea. I needed to keep that in mind while getting to know my brother and his lover. I also needed to keep that in mind while getting to know Tyler as well.

"No need to be sorry," he said. "Ian wouldn't get upset about me telling you that he was working to pay his tuition. He's proud, Tommy. He wouldn't have accepted money from his family if they'd offered it."

That told me a lot. I wondered why his family wouldn't pay his tuition and why he wouldn't accept it if they had offered. Ian had a tale of his own to tell. I just hoped that he trusted me enough to tell it to me. He was my brother's lover and I wanted to get to know him. It seemed that we would be spending a lot of time together if I was really going to get to know Brian. I wanted to be Ian's friend.

We arrived at Santucci's and got our table. A waitress took our drink orders but Brian wouldn't accept menus. He told her that there would be another person joining our party shortly. I looked around the restaurant remembering the first time I'd ever been there. It was the night that my mother and Mike were celebrating winning Mom's first case. Steve and I weren't together yet and he and Nick were keeping his sexuality secret. I remembered the scene I'd caused that night with Sharon. Being in the restaurant brought back a lot of painful memories for me. I missed my mother like crazy and I could almost see Steve sitting across the table from me in his dark pants and blue shirt that made his eyes look amazing. I had to shake my head to dispel the memory.

"You all right?" Brian asked, pausing as he lifted his glass of soda to his lips.

"Fine," I sighed. "This place just holds some bittersweet memories for me."

"Memories of Steve?" he asked.

"And my mother," I replied before telling him all about the night of the celebratory dinner. By the time I was finished talking I was nearly in tears. It was as if I could just turn around and see my mother coming through the door. I had to snap out of my memories. I hadn't felt like this in quite some time.

"I'm sorry, Tommy," he said, looking almost panicked. "Do you want to go somewhere else?"

"No," I sighed. "It's just a restaurant. There are many places in this city that are more painful to be in. Trust me."

"If you're sure," he said, looking at me hard.

I nodded as Ian walked up to the table. Brian actually got up and kissed him right there in the restaurant. There weren't many customers in the place but those that were watched with rapt attention. I was a little shocked at how out they were.

"Sorry it took me so long," Ian said as he sat down. "There was a lot to do today."

"No problem," I said, smiling at him.

"Tommy was just telling me about the first time he came to this restaurant," said Brian. "I was suggesting that we leave."

"Bad memories?" Ian asked, looking from Brian to me.

"Not exactly," I replied. "We don't have to leave. I was just telling Brian that there are far more painful places in the city."

"If you're really sure," said Brian.

"I am," I replied, noticing the waitress was on her way back to the table. "Here comes the waitress again."

The waitress returned to get Ian's drink order, refill mine and Brian's sodas and leave the menus. We politely told her that we'd need just a minute. She glared at us but didn't say anything. I sighed as she walked away. You can find at least one bigot everywhere you go. If I had anything to say about it she wouldn't be getting a tip.

"I don't think she liked our public display of affection," said Ian with a giggle.

"She'll get over it," replied Brian, then he looked at me. "It didn't make you uncomfortable, did it?"

"No," I laughed. "I'm gay remember?"

"That doesn't mean you're comfortable with public displays of homosexuality," pointed out Ian.

"Well it didn't bother me at all," I said. "Don't worry about it."

"So," said Brian, looking at both me and Ian. "Where should I start?"

"Why don't you start from the beginning?" Ian suggested. "When you woke up in the hospital."

"I was scared," he said. "I couldn't remember my name or anything about my life. I knew what just about everything in the room was, so I knew that I had an education. When the doctor told me that I'd been in the hospital, in and out of a coma for four months I was shocked and scared even more.

"He told me that I had been in an accident and that the two people who were in the car with me were both dead. At the time I didn't know if they were my parents or not. It was a little while later that I started to believe that they were. I had an . . . inner voice that talked to me. I'd like to think that it was my memory trying to right itself. I told myself that my name was Brian.

"Doctor Carlo told me that there were some people who wanted to adopt me. It had been accepted by that time that the people I'd been traveling with were my parents. They were both dead and since I couldn't remember any family I became a ward of the state. I wasn't adopted though. My social worker, Sarah Bennet, decided to enter me in some new program the Social Service Office was employing. They'd received a large donation and were sending six boys to Rhaven Academy. I was to be one of the six," he said, pausing to take a drink of his soda.

"I met Ian my first day at Rhaven. I have to say that we weren't exactly thrilled to meet each other. We became friends shortly after a group of the other boys learned about my amnesia and the accident that killed my mother and step-father. It was partly through Ian that I got my memory back. He took me to Chicago to see the University after I'd learned that I was actually a student there under hypnosis. That's where I got my entire memory back.

"I also learned that his father was the man who had been chasing us when we had our accident. His father had murdered a man and I, along with two friends, discovered proof. When his father found out he killed my two friends. One of them was his own nephew. He tried to kill me."

"My oldest brother, Dale, chased us back to Storyville," said Ian, picking up when Brian fell silent. "He was trying to get the disc from Brian that had the proof on it. He was also trying to kill us both."

"We made it back to Storyville and contacted a detective who was investigating the accident that killed my parents," said Brian. "Once he saw the disc, Dale was arrested. Shortly afterward authorities in Chicago arrested Ian's father. I had to testify against both of them."

"And so did I," said Ian. "Because of that my mother cut me off. I still talk to my older brother, Brady, but my mother hasn't spoken to me since the day my father and Dale were sentenced."

I didn't know what to say for a while. It sounded like something out of a television movie or something. I knew that I had lived a strange television-like existence not long ago myself and I didn't doubt what Brian and Ian had told me one bit. For one thing there were newspaper articles about what they'd said. I'd read one and didn't know what I was reading about. I'd dismissed it as something that happened to someone else when I was having my own troubles.

Instead of talking about what they'd told me I began to talk about my own experiences. I started with moving to Storyville from Florida and how upset I'd been about leaving behind all of my friends. I told them how I'd met Nick after he'd smacked me in the head with a baseball. They'd laughed at that part as did I, but they were rapt while I described what had happened to Steve on that fateful holiday when his father had nearly killed him.

I told them about my mother's death and Brian had tears in his eyes as I described my violent reaction to the news. They listened patiently as I told them about what life was like for me as I dove into my school work and working out to deny myself the grieving process. I'd put off dealing with my mother's death for as long as I could. I told them how devastated I was when it finally hit me that my mother was dead and she wasn't coming back.

They listened as I told them about the hateful messages that had been written on our lockers just the year before. They listened as I told them about the bombs in the lockers and how scared we'd all been. I told them about how most of the students of Storyville High School had refused to return to school until the metal detectors were replaced at the doors. They listened as I told them about Ms. Tull being fired for constantly using her religion against us in school. They were shocked when I told them about Reverend Hartman and his flock throwing stones at us and landing both me and Steve in the hospital.

I told them about how we'd had to go to court to testify against Reverend Hartman and how Steve grew more and more agitated as the trial went on. They listened as I told them about the fact that we still didn't know who it was that put the bombs in the lockers. They were both shocked to hear about the way that Steve left me. By the time I got to that part I had run out of things to tell them. It was only at the end of the summer that I'd met Brian for the first time and he knew all of the rest.

"After hearing all of that I can't say that I envy you your life any more than you'd probably envy me," said Brian. "Tommy, I'm so sorry that all of that happened to you. Steve sounds like a real ass to me."

"He didn't start out that way," I said slowly.

"They never do," said Ian. "My first boyfriend started out like a gift from God, but he changed once he met my older brother, Brady. He was instantly in love with him. It was horrible for me."

"That sounds terrible," I replied, shaking my head to dispel the image it had put in my mind.

"Well I turned out all right," said Ian. "It didn't scar me too deeply. I have Brian, and I wouldn't trade him for the world."

"I'm glad you have each other," I said, smiling at them. "I have to say that you look great together."

"Thank you," said Brian, beaming at me. "It's time for you to find someone to make you happy too, little brother."

"Well I've just found out that someone I'm very interested in is gay and likes me," I said, thinking of Tyler for the first time since we'd sat down in the restaurant. "We've decided to spend some time getting to know each other."

"That's great," said Ian. "Who is he?"

"His name is Tyler Beckett," I replied. "I met him just before the semester began."

"I know Tyler," said Ian. "He's in one of my classes. He's a nice guy and very good looking. He hangs with some bad elements though."

"Loren and TK?" I asked. Ian nodded. "I've had the unfortunate displeasure of meeting both of them."

I told them about the first time I'd seen Tyler. He'd been with Loren and TK. I talked about Loren's childish behavior that day and then his foolish attempt to rile me the second time I'd seen him. They seemed surprised that the second time I saw TK he had nothing at all to say to me. I told them how shocked I'd been to learn that Loren and Tyler had dated for nearly a year.

"That's shocking," said Ian. "Tyler seems to loath Loren."

"I can't understand why he has anything to do with him," I said.

Storyville 3