Once we exited the bus garage, I looked at Jason and said, “WHOA! We have his name! Now do we go to see Officer Janczuk… or the detective?”
“I think Officer Janczuk is a better choice. He’s been involved at the street level so far and if he comes in with the collar, it might mean a citation or something for him.”
“That’s cool. I never would have thought of that,” I told him. “Umm… where do we find him if he’s on patrol?”
“Well, I kind of read him yesterday… he goes for coffee around seven at Starbucks most nights.”
I pulled out my phone and checked the time. “Crap! It’s after five! I have to call Mom and let her know I’ll probably miss supper. I hope she doesn’t get too pissed. She hates it when I do that.” I called and laid it on thick about how Jason and I were helping Officer Janczuk with some details he needed for a report he has due.
“OK, honey, get home as soon as you can.”
“Mom, I should be home by eight, so I’ll still have plenty of time to put Luke to bed and do my homework.”
“That’s great, Alex. You know how he loves it when you take him up at night. We’ll see you then.”
“OK, Mom. Love you.” As I hung up the phone and put it back in my pocket, Jason was smiling at me. “What? We are helping Officer Janczuk. We have to tell him about Jacob Winslow and the rifle in his guitar case. We have to show him the videos we copied, too. Those are details that he needs, right?” Jason just shook his head.
= = =
We had some KFC for supper and got to Starbucks about 6:30 and sat outside for about a half an hour waiting for Officer Janczuk to show. Just like clockwork, he pulled in at 6:59. We ran over and followed him into the shop and waited while he got a cup of coffee. Jason picked a table and set up his laptop and got the DVD loaded while we waited. As Officer Janczuk was getting ready to find a seat, he saw us and came over.
“Hi guys, do you mind a little company?”
“No sir,” Jason said. “In fact, we were waiting for you. We have something that might make your day.”
“What? A doughnut to go along with my coffee?”
“Hahaha! No. We know who’s been shooting at the buses! We even have proof! Look.” And he hit the play button on the screen. We watched Officer Janczuk’s face as it went from smiling to dead serious.
“Where did you boys get this?”
“We went to the stores around the crash sites and the owners let us copy them. They really wanted to help out,” Jason answered.
“You said you knew who he was. Do you know his-“
“Jacob Winslow,” we said together.
“Do you happen to have his address, too?”
“That kinda changes a lot,” I told him. “He lives in his car. Oh yeah…” I handed him the sketch that Michelle made for us. “This is what he looks like.”
“Where did you get this?” he asked.
“I asked one of the kids last night while you were talking with his mother,” Jason said.
“I saw this guy last Saturday, too,” I added. “Same guitar case and everything.”
“When did you guys put this all together?”
“Well, Alex was on the first bus, and then we saw the second crash, then I saw you guys last night. We just pieced everything together and, with a little luck and some cool store owners, we gathered the facts and pieced it all together this afternoon after school.”
“Wow, boys, this is great! You know that there’s a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of this guy, right? It looks like money is in your futures. You guys are heroes!”
“What? We didn’t do anything… but the reward sounds good. Hehe.” That was Jason. I was trying to lift my jaw off the table; I was totally speechless. “Oh yeah,” Jason continued, “We have his license plate number,” Jason added as he loaded the picture of the front of Winslow’s car. He turned the screen towards Officer Janczuk so he could see it. Once he had it written down, he excused himself and asked us to wait. We watched as he walked back to his squad car and started talking on his radio. It took him about five minutes, but he returned when he was finished.
“Officer Janczuk, why did you have to go to your car to call this in? Doesn’t the radio on your shoulder work?” I asked.
“Yes it does, Alex, but I didn’t want to talk in here. Some people get a bit nervous when I do that. Jason, I assume you have a copy of the DVD for the police, right?”
“Yes, sir.” And he removed the DVD and put it in a sleeve before giving it to him.
“Thanks, Jason, and you too, Alex. I have to get going now; you guys have given the police a lot to do. Thank you. I’ll let you know when we catch this guy. And please, don’t try to capture him yourselves; besides being just plain stupid, it’s dangerous as hell. This guy doesn’t care about anyone but himself, so don’t give him a target.”
We promised we wouldn’t do anything stupid and if we saw Jacob Winslow, we agreed to call 9-1-1. All that was left to do was to call Michelle and go home. It was only 7:25, so I had plenty of time to get home on time. We started walking our bikes towards my house as Jason called our cell chief. When she answered, he put the phone on speaker so I could join in the conversation. Jason started.
“Michelle, we have good news! We identified the guy and gave the information to the police, so the shooter, Jacob Winslow, should be arrested soon.”
“Jason! That’s fantastic! This only took twenty-four hours! Is that your record for an assignment completion?”
“Haha! Yeah, so far it is, but to be honest, Alex and I have been working on this since Saturday when we saw the second bus crash.”
“Alex, don’t expect to have all the assignments go this well. But for your second assignment, you really pulled it off well!”
“Thanks, Michelle! I wasn’t too sure what to expect when you and Jason talked with me last night. You know, I have to give the credit to Jason. He’s the one who figured most of this out.”
“Alex, Michelle doesn’t give credit – only blame. Hahaha.”
“Jason, stop or I’ll give you guys another assignment. Hehe. Emerson once said, ‘There is no limit to what can be accomplished if it doesn’t matter who gets the credit.’ That’s kinda how it works around here. Thanks, guys. I have to go; another call is coming in.” We said goodbye and hung up quickly so she could get the other call.
Once we were off the call, we got on our bikes and rode them to my house. We got there about ten ‘til eight and talked for a few minutes. The night had enveloped us, so as we stood on my driveway, Jason gave me a hug and a passionate kiss. In the middle of the kiss, my dad pulled into the driveway and we were like deer, literally in his headlights! We broke our hug, but we know Dad saw us. He sat there for a few seconds and then backed up and drove off.
“Oh crap! I’m in trouble now. Jason, you better go. I’ll be on Skype later and I’ll let you know what happens.”
“Are you sure you’ll be OK?”
“Yeah; I still have my power if I need it.”
“That’s true.” Then he leaned in and kissed me goodbye. Now what should I do? Crap!
= = =
Mom had saved a plate for me in the fridge, so I had a second supper. Hehe, what? I’m a growing boy! While she heated it, I took Luke up to bed. When I got back, Mom asked, “Did you see Dad out there. He was supposed to be home; he got off early and didn’t have an MMA match.”
My stomach was tying itself in knots. I think I should tell her before Dad does. “Mom, Dad pulled into the driveway just before I came in. He saw Jason and me kissing and he-”
“He saw Jason and you WHAT?!?”
Oh crap! “He saw us kissing.”
“That’s what I thought you said. OK, go on.”
Wha- Did she just tell me to go on? I was shocked and hesitated.
“So where is your father, Alex?”
“Umm… he looked at us for a few seconds and then he backed out and he left. I don’t know where he went.”
“I’ll call him. Eat your supper and get started on your homework.” And she walked out of the kitchen, closing the door behind her. That door is never closed. I listened as closely as I could, but all I heard was quiet mumbling, pauses and more mumbling. Finally, she came back. “He’s on his way to see Sensei Lee. If it means anything, he seemed more confused than angry. Do you want to talk about it?”
“Mom, I didn’t want you guys to find out about it this way. It just happened…”
“How long have you known?”
“That you’re gay.”
I was more nervous now than I have ever been in my life. “Since I was eleven.”
“Eleven? Oh you poor dear!” Next she hugged me and started to weep. “Alex, you could have told me; you didn’t have to be afraid. I’m your mother and I’ll love you regardless of who you love. I just want you to be happy and a success in life.”
“Mom, I was more worried about Dad finding out. I tried to change, I really did. I didn’t want to be the gay kid that everybody teased or bullied at school. I just wanted to be like everyone else.”
“Alex, honey, you are like everyone else. Did you know you were named for my Uncle Alex? He was my mother’s youngest brother. I was twelve when he killed himself. He was seventeen, just five years older than I was. Uncle Alex was gay and he just couldn’t take the stress of trying to fit into what he saw as a straight world. My side of the family gave me a hard time when I told them we were naming you Alex. They said it was a bad omen. Bullshit!” Wow! Mom never cusses!
“I wasn’t bullied, Mom. I did fit in, but every day it got more and more difficult to cope. Then I met Jason two weeks ago and my life has become so much better. I’m not silly enough to think I’m in love; he’s my friend, not my boyfriend. But it’s so good to have another gay person to talk with and share my true feelings with. When I’m with Jason, I feel free. Free for the first time since I realized that I was gay.
“The cookout last Sunday was at Jason’s house. There were five people there: Jason, his dad, Glenn Taylor and Mike Whalen. Rick, Jason’s dad, was the only straight guy there. Jason told Rick that I was gay and Rick said that if I was Jason’s friend then I was his friend, too. I finally felt accepted one hundred percent. I wasn’t the closeted gay kid; I was Jason’s friend, Alex. Being with Jason I don’t have to have my straight armor on all the time. I can be me. But tonight Dad saw us kissing. Crap! It was dark so we were kissing each other goodnight. Then Dad turned in and his headlights lit us up like it was noon on a sunny day. We couldn’t hide. There was no way we could deny it. I thought he’d be at work ‘til midnight. That wasn’t supposed to happen. Mom, I’m so sorry that you had to find out this way.” Again she hugged me and did her best to comfort me.
“Don’t worry about it, honey. Like my Uncle Alex, you don’t have a choice about being gay any more than I have a choice about being straight. Try not to worry about it and finish your supper. Then get at your homework. I’ll handle your father.”
“Thanks, Mom,” I said, and then I gave her a kiss on the cheek. “Mom, I have to call Jason and tell him what’s going on.”
“Fine, but finish your supper first, OK?”
When my plate was empty and loaded into the dishwasher, I went up to my room and started the computer. Luke never wakes up after being put to sleep for the night; I think he’s used up all of his energy and has to recharge. Still, I put my headphones on and, when I saw Jason was on Skype, I called him. His first question was, “Is everything OK?”
“Yeah. Dad went back to work to check with Sensei Lee. I hope the sensei can calm him down.” Then I told Jason what Mom told me about Uncle Alex. That was news to both of us.
“That’s so sad, Alex. Look, if you feel uncomfortable staying there, you can come here any time you want. I know Dad will go along with it.”
“Dude! Thanks, but you’re forgetting my power again. Dad can’t hurt me and if I leave, it might become open season on Luke.”
“Yeah, I did forget your power. Maybe I just want some company. Hehe.”
“Yeah, it’s funny how having a partner can make your right hand seem like less than it used to be. Hehe. Jason, I have to get going and finish my homework. I’ll see you at the bus stop tomorrow morning.”
“Not tomorrow. It’s Wednesday and I have to wash dishes. I’ll see you at lunch.”
“Oh, right. Have fun and I hope someone calls in sick.”
“That would make my day. Hehe. Later, bud.”
When we disconnected, I turned Skype off and started my homework. Do all teachers think that they’re the only ones who give out assignments? Crap. I’m going to be up till midnight finishing this stuff.
= = =
When Mark arrived at the dojo, he found Sensei Lee in meditation in his office. He stood quietly at the door waiting to be acknowledged. This time it happened immediately. Without opening his eyes or looking up the master said, “Your breathing is disruptive, Mark. What is bothering you that you came back after being given the night off?”
“Sensei, I saw something when I arrived at home and I’m confused. When I pulled into the driveway, my headlights lit up my son and his friend Jason. They were standing in the driveway and hugging, but they were also kissing. My son was kissing another boy! Neither Lily nor I are gay, how did we create a gay son?”
“Mark, almost all gay children are born from straight parents. It is the way of the world. You can’t choose the sexual orientation of your child any more than the sex. You should accept your son for who he is: a handsome, loving teen. Gay or straight, Alex is still your son and he needs your support even more if he is gay.”
“Sensei, I don’t know if I can accept him if he is gay. Can’t I send him to specialists to have him corrected?”
“There is no defect, so nothing needs to be corrected. Mark, surely you know other gay people.”
“Not that I can think of.”
“How can you tell if someone is gay?”
“You know, sensei, they act girly and talk with a lisp.”
“Mark, did you know that at least ten percent of the world’s population is gay? That means one out of every ten people you pass on the street is gay, male or female. One of every ten clients that we have is gay. Can you tell me which ones are gay here?”
“N-No… not offhand. Which ones are gay, sensei?”
“Mark, you can’t tell by looking. To be positive, you have to ask them. You see, only they know if they are gay or straight, bisexual or a trans person. Are you beginning to understand yet?”
“Sensei, I think I’m more confused now than ever.”
“Mark, do you remember when I introduced you to Mr. Che when you started here?”
“Mr. Che? Oh yes; your business partner.”
“No, Mark, he not my business partner… he’s my partner.”
“Sensei, how can he be your partner if he’s not your business partner?”
“Mark, he’s my Life Partner. You came here just before Alex was born. You’ve worked with me almost every day since then and all this time you’ve thought that Mr, Che was my business partner? Mr. Che is the head teller at a bank. He knows nothing of the Martial Arts, other than they exist. He is my partner because he loves me and I love him and it is illegal for us to marry in this state.”
“No! You’re not gay! You can’t be; I’d know!”
“I’m sorry to disappoint you, Mark, but I am. Will you quit now? You have trusted me for fifteen years. Have I ever betrayed that trust? You come to me for advice, just as you have tonight. Is my advice any less relevant now that you know I’m gay? Am I any less of a teacher now that you know that I’m gay?”
“But… But you’ve shown me so much in the last fifteen years…”
“Mark, we have never talked to each other about what we do in bed with our spouses. Why is that?”
“Well, it’s not right to do that. What a man and his wife do is no one’s business but theirs.”
“Do you grant me the same rights with my spouse?”
“I guess, but I saw them out in the open and they were holding each other and kissing! Out in public!”
“Mark, what time did this happen? If I remember, it was dark already when you left at 7:30. Was the driveway at your house brightly lit?”
“Not until I pulled into it and my headlights were cast on them.”
“You were given the night off. Had you been here, who would have seen the boys kissing?”
“Well, probably no one would have seen them.”
“So it was the fact that you were home early that allowed you to catch your son and his friend saying goodnight to each other, is that what you’re saying?”
“But what, Mark? Alex wasn’t in the middle of the street and under a light, he and his friend were in your dark driveway, away from traffic and people, and he would have remained invisible had you not come home early. If you would have been a minute earlier or a minute later, you wouldn’t have seen anything, would you?”
“I suppose not, but it’s just wrong to do that!”
“Mark, ten percent of the world is gay. Ten percent of the world is also left handed. If it’s wrong to be gay, then it must be wrong to be left handed, too. By the way, Mark, aren’t you left handed? Ten percent of men are also color blind; are they wrong, as well?”
“Sensei, are you really gay?”
“Hahaha! Yes, Mark, I am. Would you rather I say something like, ‘No, I’m not gay, but my boyfriend is’? Right now Alex must be scared to death that he’ll be in trouble when you get home. Why don’t you go home and tell him that he’s not in trouble? Support him; don’t push him away from you.”
The men stood facing each other and Mark bowed to his master and thanked him. Then he left and drove home.
= = =
I heard Dad return home about 10:30 and I just froze. I didn’t know what he would do, but I wished he would at least wait until tomorrow to do it. No such luck. I heard him coming up the stairs and I started to sweat. Then the craziest thing in the world happened: he grabbed me in a bear hug and almost squeezed the life out of me as he said, “I love you, Alex!”