Day 12: [J]ailer
Jeremy never liked his job, but it was what was expected. He went into the office – his father’s office – day after day and read off test results and delivered bad news to those unsuspecting victims. ‘Hi Mr. or Mrs. so-n-so, I have your results.’ He’d flip through two or three pages of the chart before looking or rather looking through Mr. or Mrs. so-n-so.
Then he would say in his calm, soothing, monotone voice, ‘I’m sorry, but. . .’ He never quite understood why he used ‘but’ instead of ‘however’. However was just as good he thought. Or better yet why not start with the positive diagnosis. Probably because there rarely was a positive.
How do you put a positive on telling someone
they’re going to die. Well, just think you have this rare something or other and there really is no cure for it and you could live a few more years and in the end we just make you comfortable. We’ll give you enough morphine to dull the pain but in reality it’s enough to kill a horse, but because you’ve built up a tolerance you’ll be fine. You’ll be as high as a fucking kite and still in excruciating pain, but you won’t care because, well your high.
Yeah, I should start with that, Jeremy thought. Dad would have a fucking cow, but who cares. He never cared about anybody else, including his patients. That’s probably why he gave me this God awful job. Telling people day in and day out their going to die.
“I don’t understand why you won’t tell you father, you don’t want to be a doctor,” Martin said
“For the same reason I don’t tell him, I’m in love with a man. It’s his way or no way.”
“So, you’re perfectly content with being a prisoner. His prisoner. He rules your life. Dictates your every move.”
“Well, just think about it,” Jeremy said smiling. “If he hadn’t forced me to go to medical school, I wouldn’t have met you.”
“I suppose that is one good thing. And stop grinning at me like that,” Martin bellowed. Martin sat on the sofa next to Jeremy. “I don’t know about you but I’m tired of living the lie. If you don’t want to tell him about not wanting to be a doctor that’s fine, but you have to – you need to tell him about us.”
Jeremy gets up and heads to the kitchen, “What do you want for dinner?”
He knew Martin was right, but he also knew his father would be furious. He never listened. It was always do as I say, how I say, when I say and if you dared challenge his way there was no telling what would happen. His sister dared and she wound up sliding across the floor from a backhand and a gash that went from her forehead to her ear. Dad let her sit there for a while refusing to patch her up.
The phone rang as Jeremy was preparing dinner. “It’s your mother,” Martin said. “She wants to know if we can come to dinner tomorrow.”
Jeremy shook his head.
“Sure, we can make Mrs. Whaller.” Martin said smiling.
“Why did you do that?” Jeremy screamed.
“Because it’s time. Your mother and sister know about us. It’s time your father knows, too.
Jeremy walked timidly up the front steps of his parents house. Tonight was the night that he was going to tell his father the truth. He reached the landing and surveyed the porch. He ran his hand across the window he broke when his father was trying to teach him how to play baseball. Jeremy was never sure if father was madder because he broke the window or because he sucked at baseball. He looked over at the swing he and his mother used to sit on. That’s where he learned acceptance and that you have to be true to yourself, but in their house there was no such thing as being true to yourself. It was like a prison and his father was the jailer.
He took a step back and felt a hand on his arm. It was Martin. He was the best thing that’s ever happened to him. Martin taught Jeremy how to be strong and how not to care about what others thought of him. But he knew that he would care about what his father thought. That’s why he stayed away. It was just easier.
Jeremy knew this was going to be the hardest conversation of his life, but he knew it was time for him to break the chains. He rang the bell and his sister came bounding to the door and gave them a big hug. Jeremy’s mother said dinner is almost ready and his father gave Jeremy and Martin a big hand shake and smile.
After dinner they headed for the living room with their preferred drink in hand. Jeremy’s dad is a Scotch on the rocks kind of man, while Jeremy was a beer drinker – moose piss drinker as his father would say.
There was an awkward silence. Jeremy felt his chest heaving and his father looked over at him and said, “Out with it. I could tell you’ve wanted to say something all night.”
Jeremy looked at his mother, sister, and Martin for validation and before he knew he blurted out, ‘I’m gay.’
His father slumped back in his chair as if someone had been hit with a wrecking ball.
“I always knew something was different about you. And I guess deep down I always knew.” He looked at Martin. “And is Martin . . .?”
“Yes. We met in medical school.”
His father stood and took a long gulp of his Scotch – draining it’s contents. He said, “I wish I could say I’m glad the secret is out. I wish I could say I’m happy for you, but I’m not.” He turned and began walking away. “I need to be alone and I would appreciate everyone that doesn’t belong here to be gone when I return.”
He grabbed his keys from the hall table and Alexandra watched as he headed off down the street.
Soon they heard screeching and a crash. Jeremy, his mother and sister, and Martin hurried to the door and saw that a car had hit a utility pole and someone or something lying in the street. They along with several neighbors ran down to scene.
Jeremy looked and noticed the crumpled up mass in the middle of the road was his father. He went to take care of his father while Martin tended to the driver.
“He just walked out in the street, like he wanted to be hit.”
“Don’t touch me,” his father said gasping for air.
“But you’ll die.”
“I’d rather die than have a fag for a son.”