In the Basement

Shay Sheridan

The big black car stops at the end of the driveway. Ray doesnít pull up any closer. Barbara Kowalski is planting zinnias in the little garden out front. Rayís father is nowhere in sight, but heís around somewhere.

Fraser looks at the tense man behind the wheel, and his own brow wrinkles. "Ray?"

"Just. . .give me a minute, Fraser." He pinches his eyes between two long fingers and breathes deeply. "Iím okay. Really. I can do this."

"Ray." Fraser leans in to his friend, his partner, his lover. "We donít have to do this today. We can just have dinner with them. We neednít tell them if you donít want to. It can wait."

"No." Ray shakes his head. "Iíve waited too long. They have to know. I want them to know." Heís looking at the double-wide, at the homey domestic scene before him, but heís not seeing it.

"Ray," Fraser says, his own heartbeat escalating. He puts a steady hand on the other manís trembling shoulder. Ray doesnít move, doesnít seem to feel Fraserís touch. "Ray. Ray. What is it? Where are you?"

The voice answering is soft, higher than Rayís usual pitch. Adolescent. "In the basement. In the basement."

"Tell me," Fraser begs. "Tell me."

. . .heís in the basement, and heís caught. Caught with Stevieís mouth wrapped around his dick, with his hand in Stevieís pants. The lights snap on suddenly. His parents werenít supposed to be back, not for hours, but there they are. His erection doesnít wilt; heís fifteen and hormones wonít let it. He sees them, sees the look of shock and disgust in their eyes and he comes anyway, spurting onto Stevieís face as his friend pulls away in terror, to be grabbed by the collar and shoved towards the door. Heís shoved onto the couch. There are words, ugly words, words like unnatural and disgusting and faggot and queer and not our son and never trusted you. And then a door slams behind one of them and heís left alone with the other and he knows heís in for it, he knows what to expect, but itís worse this time, itís never been this bad; this time itís more than slaps and a raised welt or two, this time a belt is used, and a shoe, and heís hit so hard in the face that his glasses go flying and smash against the unfinished cinderblock wall and his eye begins to swell and his teeth feel loose. Thereíll be no school, not for a few days, maybe more than a few, not until he wonít have to make up a reason for the bruises.

"Oh, God," Fraser says. He feels sick. He wants to get out of the car and run, run right up to the door and beat the person who did that to a teenage boy. He doesnít. Now itís Ray whose hand reaches out. Fraser looks up into Rayís eyes, and Ray looks strangely calm now.

"Itís okay, Fraser."

"Itís not. Itís not okay. Itís not right."

"No," Ray admits, and lets out his breath in a long hiss. "They were pretty relieved when I got serious about Stella, as you can imagine."

"Yes." Fraser smiles grimly. He looks up at the trailer. Damian Kowalski is coming around the side of the building, a hose in his hand. "I donít know how you can even look at him now. I donít care how shocked or disappointed he was. How could a father do such a thing to his own son?"

Ray looks out the window, blinking rapidly. Barbara Kowalski has noticed them, and a motherly smile breaks out on her plump face. She waves at them, starts towards the car.

"No, Fraser," Ray says, quietly, so quietly that he is barely audible. "Not him. Not my father."

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