The weekend was upon them when Robert came in from school that Friday afternoon, dropped his school books into the hall closet, found a snack, and then went looking for his 'dad'. On the way home he decided he needed to talk to Mr. Ken, whom he now called 'dad', about these feelings he was getting every time he was in the company of his friend, Eric.
He knew from his sex education classes at school what some things meant and about feelings and such but they always directed the information towards a boy and girl combination and never at a boy and boy couple or even a girl and girl couple ever being together. He knew he was only twelve, almost thirteen, but knew more about sex and had more sexual experiences than his entire class of sixth graders, put together. It was because of what his father had him do, no - made him, do back when he just turned ten.
Robert felt so confused and he didn't like that feeling. He found himself daydreaming in class and got caught a few times. He found it difficult to concentrate on his school work and he became afraid he'd bring home bad grades that would make his new 'dad' mad at him. No, that wasn't right, it would make 'dad' disappointed at him and he never wanted to do that if he could ever avoid that.
Catching up with his 'dad', who reading a book down in the Great Room, instead of his Study, he called out a 'Hi' to him and went over and sat down beside him and gave him a hug. Ken received many of those same types of hugs all week long, after Robert accepted that he wasn't going to be sent away, and calling Mr. Ken 'Dad" was going to be okay. This hug though, had a different feel to it.
The two looked at each other and then Ken said, "What's up, 'son'?"
Robert didn't know how to begin. He knew what he wanted to say but he wasn't sure how to say it. He just sat there with a blank stare on his face.
"Are you, maybe … a bit embarrassed to say what's on your mind, Tiger?"
"Yeah … kinda!"
"You know … I will never laugh at you for anything you want or need to talk to me about. And, I am not ever going to yell at you for that either. I know how difficult it is for a young boy to talk to an adult about many things. The word is Trust and that's what needs to be there between the two parties as they talk to one other. Every day, with my work I have to know that I can Trust the person or people I am dealing with. The same has to be said for both you and me."
"Yeah 'dad', I know, it's just … I don't really know how to start. I think that … well … once I get going I'll be okay, because I do trust you. … In the beginning, you know when I first got here, I would … lie awake many nights listening … listening for you to … to come to my door … sorry … but you never came! It took a few talks between us but … do you know when I knew I could really trust you?"
"Yes … I did learn to trust you after Eric and I had our first talk but do you know when I could really trust you? It came after that time in your shower you … you wondered why I was there and then … and then I jumped into your arms and you held me … and I was 'naked'."
"My mind double checked what you said before I did that. … I reviewed all the times when you were with me where you could have done something to me but you didn't. You didn't DO anything to me! Since you didn't do anything and because you never made fun of me or ever got mad at me or even yelled at me for what I tried, it's because of that … that I knew I could trust you. I knew THEN … that you'd never come to my bedroom and do stuff to me."
After Robert's little speech, the room got extremely quiet. Ken Thomas decided to wait some before saying anything just in case his new 'son' wanted to add something more. When that didn't happen, Ken decided to take the lead.
"What you are trying to talk to me about, 'son', is this one of the items from the List I had you keep?" asked 'dad' Ken.
"Well, yes and no. I added this to the List myself so I would make sure I did talk to you about it one day. I just never thought I'd want to talk to you so soon," Robert tried to explain.
"Does this have something to do with what happened here last Sunday? Does it concern both you and Eric?" inquired 'dad'.
"Yes, it was dad and … and, yes it also does concern Eric" sheepishly responded Robert.
"Oh, I see. Can I ask … does it revolve around me putting the sheet over you two?"
"It is tied together, 'dad'. Us sleeping nude together is part of it but … well, I guess the thing I want to talk to you about is these … well, these feelings I have inside of me. Sunday … Eric and I both did a few things together. It was something he kinda wanted to do as he had never done anything with another boy and … and, I was his first."
"Did you force him to do things, Robert? Tell me now if you did, 'son'!" Ken said a little angrier than he intended.
"No, no 'dad' it wasn't anything like that. I said HE wanted to do it. Yeah, I did it too, but … well, Eric said he had wanted to do that for the longest time and … well, my being there just made it, well, possible," Robert practically yelled back to his dad.
"Oh, Robert, I'm so sorry if it sounded like I was accusing you of something. I jumped to a conclusion before I heard you out. I'm sorry I did that. This is new for me too, 'son'. I'm going to have to learn to listen first and then talk. Will you please forgive me?" 'dad' Ken asked of his 'son'.
A few seconds went on as Robert was thinking through what his dad had just said.
"'Dad' … thank you for explaining that to me. I thought you were … well, it was beginning to sound like how … how my old dad reacted to anything I would tell him. He never listened to the whole story; he just took his belt to me and …." A single sniff was then heard as Robert let the words just hang there.
"Oh Robert," Ken said while pulling the lad to him and hugging the boy tight, "I am really so sorry for bringing up that bad memory. I will try my damnedest to do the right thing for you and I promise that I will never, ever hit you for any reason. You have my word on that!"
There were a few more moments of silence as the two took in what had just transpired between them and they both muddled it over in their minds a bit.
Wanting to get the discussion back on track, Mr. Ken asked, "Okay … could we maybe start over? Are you going to be okay with that, Robert? Or, do you want to wait until later? I'll do whatever you want to do! What do you say there 'son'?"
"Yes, 'dad', I would like to do that. I mean continue. I'm not mad at you for what you said. I know you didn't mean it. You were trying to explain something to me and … I'm okay!"
Robert collected his thoughts and began, "The thing is … I'm so confused over what I feel about Eric."
There he said it. He got the nerve to say what troubled him all week and he said it to his 'dad'. Now he hoped his 'dad' could help him sort it out so he could understand it.
"Robert, let me get this right. Are you saying it isn't what you did with Eric that has you so confused, but it has to do with how you feel FOR him?" a slightly confused 'dad' asked.
"Yes, 'dad', when we were doing those things together I … I kept feeling something inside of me … that I never felt before or at any time I was having to do, … you know, do sex with all those men."
Now Mr. Ken was getting some of the original reasons for Robert's being there but he knew that wasn't what Robert wanted to talk about this time around. That item was on his List and he would just have to wait for the time that Robert was ready to talk to him about it. For now, he needed to focus on a possible love sick young man.
"Do you know if Eric is having the same feelings for you or, is it maybe, he is just as confused as you are?"
"We never did talk at school about anything we did together. We would just look at each other and we'd smile and we kinda knew what that was about. I have no idea if Eric has the same feelings for me as I think I have for him. But, I believe he may from what we told each other last Sunday. I … I just don't know 'dad'," Robert confessed.
For the next hour or so the two sat there in the Great Room discussing Robert's feelings for Eric. Robert had told Mr. Ken what he and Eric had done together and tried to explain how each time they did it he felt this kind of electricity or a connection go between them. Robert expressed that he thought he was 'falling in love' with Eric and wasn't sure what he should do.
Mr. Ken, for his part, listened attentively and never interrupted when Robert was talking or explaining a question he asked. He even told Robert he wasn't mad or even disappointed over what those two had done because he looked at it as being a part of growing up. He clarified that by saying he felt, 'that kids all over are wanting to know about the mysteries of sex, and especially their own part of the puzzle, and look for ways to learn about it.'
Then he worked to first alleviate his 'son's' worry over his trouble concentrating and his daydreaming and then he explained that now that Robert knew what he was doing, he could now control it. He also got Robert to understand that only time would tell if his feelings for Eric would be accepted and returned. Ken explained there wasn't anything Robert could do to make things hurry up and that he had to let 'nature' take its normal course.
"'Dad' … does this mean I am gay?" seriously asked the twelve year old boy.
"Not at all, 'son'!" said Ken emphatically. "You are only 12 and a half and right now … there is no way you could ever fully know whether you are or not. Yes, maybe some of the stuff you two did together could be said it indicates you are gay, but the vast majority of boys your age are doing or have done the same stuff and that would mean all of them are, too. Do you think all the boys of the entire 7th grade ARE gay?" Ken said with a smile and a laugh.
"Well, when you put it that way then I guess you are right. But … but why do I feel that I might be gay?" asked Robert.
"That can be a difficult question to answer. If you were sixteen I think the answer would be easier. But, at your present age, what you did would be considered experimentation and anyone who knows about these things would never label you as being gay," 'dad' Ken tried to explain.
"The only thing I can say to you is to not worry about the word or the label. If what you are doing is what you and your partner, whom ever it may be, agree to do it then just enjoy those feelings and the togetherness you share. Does that help any?" asked 'dad' Ken.
Robert answered with, "Kinda!"
"Look, I bet there are other boys out there that you know who are doing the same things together that you and Eric did this past weekend. Do you know any two boys who are as close as you and Eric are?" asked the Cove's owner.
"Well, Brad and Gordon are together almost all the time and Chuck is usually there, too. Do you think they may be doing this stuff, too?" asked Robert.
"I only know those boys from them being here with you and … well Brad, he was Eric's best buddy back when Collin lived here, so I am not going to even go there," expressed Mr. Ken. … "Robert … the one thing I would warn you about the most is to NOT tell anyone you think you may be gay or that you do 'stuff' with other boys."
"If some people find that out they could make your life miserable, beyond belief. Even boys who are doing the same thing as you were, will attack you because they don't want to be found out, as well. They figure if that person is being attacked then they won't even be looked at. You understand that, don't you?" Ken Thomas tried to explain to his new 'son'.
"Oh, yes! I've seen that at my old school. This kid was beaten up a few times and once went to the hospital and I do not want that to ever happen to me," exclaimed Robert.
After a few seconds of silence, Robert blurted out, "'Dad'? Can I ask you a … a personal question?"
"Okay, 'son' you can ask," began 'dad' Ken, "but I won't guarantee I'll answer. It will depend on what it is and whether or not it is right time to answer it. Is that going to be alright with you?"
Without even hearing what his dad had just said, Robert went on to say, "Well, I was wondering if … if, you ever did those kinds of things when you were growing up? That's all."
"Wow, you sure don't beat around the bush, do you?" chuckled Ken, thinking how and if he wanted to answer.
"Okay, remember what I said last weekend about the things that happen in this house stay in this house?"
"I say that so you know what I tell you now IS in strict confidence. You got that?" clarified 'dad' Ken.
So with that understanding out front, Mr. Ken decided to tell Robert about some of his sexual exploits back when he was growing up. The two laughed and laughed over some of what Mr. Ken told Robert he did back then when it came to sex, among other things.
As the evening passed on, the two talked and laughed getting to know each other more as 'dad' and 'son' should. Throughout it all, Robert found himself fascinated with the stories and primarily because he felt his 'dad' Ken was being honest. Then, realizing how much time he was spending with him he began to admire him more and more.
They were so wound up in their conversation they totally lost track of the time and before they knew it, it was very dark outside. Feeling hungry, Mr. Ken decided to make them toasted cheese sandwiches along with tomato soup for their dinner. Robert teased Mr. Ken about his cooking abilities and threatened that 'he wasn't eating anything that was burnt'.
After dinner, they both went their own ways. It was too late to have any of his pals over so Robert decided to get some of his homework done so he'd have more time over the weekend to relax and enjoy the time away from school.
Mr. Ken went to his Study and worked on paying household bills and whatever else that needed attention. Finishing those, he decided he needed to find another person to run the household. He knew his job as Wilkinson's, now CME. Inc.'s CEO and COO could keep him away often enough that he could not do it alone. With his watching over Robert, and keeping on top of running the house, to include the staff salaries and maintenance issues, what was he to do?
The man knew he couldn't do it all by himself, so he tried to write up a new job description and then wrote a newspaper ad. He figured he'd get with his lawyer next week and finalize what would need to happen.
By eleven that evening both residents and one dog, of Three Finger Cove, were sound asleep.