The Bethlam Incident
“Peter Gable Cask. I need you to look me in the eye and tell me that... that... Faggot. Isn’t your boyfriend.” Anna Cask stared deep into the eyes of her son. Rumors had plagued Bethlam since Declan had started to hang out around the small Catholic town again. She had witnessed it, first hand, and thought that, after their conversation weeks ago, Gable would never contact him again.
“Mom, he’s... Just... He likes me, and he is helping me out money wise. It’s nothing. I swear. He can help us out.” the teenager lied. He couldn’t even bring himself to admit that the kid he had met all those years ago would be the guy he cared about more than himself, “Please don’t make a scene.”
“Help? I don’t need help from a wetback. Much less a faggot.” She hissed. She couldn’t even bring herself to look at her son anymore, “Don’t tell me not to make a fucking scene. I will do whatever the fuck I please, if someone is threatening my public image. I am a grown woman, you little ingrate. You listen here, go back over there, and make that faggot leave. I told you I wanted you to never contact him. I can’t handle the other parents talking anymore. I can’t handle one more fucking person asking me if my son is gay.”
“Mom... There’s no nee-” he was cut off.
“Do what I’m telling you to do.” She said, as she smiled at a passing parent, and went back to the concession stand.
Gable was conflicted; he didn’t know what to do. It was true that everyone had begun talking about him and Declan since he’d arrived that morning to watch him play in the Bethlam Invitational Basketball Tournament.
Ryder, Slater, Bryson, and Robert had made it impossible for him to even get near him. He wasn’t as oblivious as many were lead to believe, he knew that they weren’t the biggest fans of Declan, but he also understood that he couldn’t let his reputation be tarnished by some faggot.
He looked across the gymnasium towards Declan. He was clearly not bothered by the rumors and what people assumed, due to the spurts of laughter he was emitting. He was surrounded by a few girls, whom all had taken a liking to Declan and his accepting ways.
He was lost in his thoughts about the gay teen; his laugh, his hair, his infectious personality… He could vehemently deny it to the whole of Bethlam, but he couldn’t deny it to himself; Declan was the only person Gable loved, at that junction of his life.
His realization was broken when Declan looked at him and smiled. His entire being filled with emotions and warmth that he’d never felt. As he smiled back, he failed to notice Slater sitting behind him.
“You can’t do this to yourself, Gable.” He warned.
“Do what?” the jock inquired.
“Be with him, or whatever the fuck you’re doing.” Slater began, “It’s not right.”
Gable nodded his head in agreement, but he couldn’t bring himself accept it. What if Slater was right? What if it was just the unwarranted attention that he was attracted to? Before he could allow himself to delve into the thought, a loud shout was emitted from the opposing side of the gymnasium.
“FINE. FUCK YOU.” Bryson shouted at his girlfriend, “YOU’RE SUCH A CUNT, CINDY.”
Cindy walked back to the stands, face in her hands, crying. She sat beside Declan and leaned into him. There was nothing he could do but wrap his arms around her and console her pain.
“He’s just saying things out of anger, Cin.” He counseled, “Don’t pay him any attention. It will blow over. You know how guys are.”
Her tears muffled her reply. Neither seemed to care, as they remained embraced. It was clear that she trusted him, and even though he was the topic of every conversation, she was convinced he didn’t mean to cause the drama that surrounded him.
Gable walked over to Bryson, Slater shortly behind. Being the friend he was, he had to find out what had happened. Perhaps, in an attempt to get his mind off things.
“Yo,” Gable nodded in Bryson’s direction, “You okay, man?”
“It’s nothing,” He shook his head, “The bitch is fucking crazy. Not to mention that your fag is causing drama for us.”
That stung Gable.
“Wait, my fag?”
“Yeah, your fag. Because of him, we keep fighting. She’s convinced you two are dating. I keep telling her that you aren’t, but what’s the deal, Gable? Are you fucking him? Are you gay or what?” Bryson threw a basketball at him.
Gable looked at him, wide eyed. He was speechless, his mind raced for an answer, but he couldn’t come up with anything to say. He stood there, mouth agape.
“Are you?” Bryson pressed on.
The people around them, including Gable’s mom, were staring in anticipation. Gable clenched his jaw… He had no answer. Even he didn’t know what he was doing anymore. He started this in lieu of a big pay out, but somewhere in between dollar signs and earthly possessions, he’d developed feelings for Declan.
“No.” He lied.
“What?” Bryson inquired.
“I said… No. We’re not anything, we’re not even friends. He’s… He’s stalking me. I just use him for his money.” He finally confessed.
Oblivious to what had just been admitted, Declan counseled Cindy out of her hysterics.
“He’s just a rude person, I don’t know why he treats me like shit.” She said in between tears, “I’m perfect to him. I treat him like a king. We have one fight and he does this…” The waterworks resumed.
Declan held her hand and squeezed it tightly.
“Well, I’m sure it will all blow over. What were you guys fighting about? Maybe it was just a misunderstanding.”
“You and Gable.” She said, tears still streaming down her face.
He furrowed his brow in confusion. Why would he and Gable be the cause of an argument?
“Me and Gable? Why?” Confusion lingered in the timbre of his voice.
“He’s convinced you two aren’t dating. He keeps saying Gable is straight and that you’re crazy.”
“Woah… Wait… Why does it even matter?” Declan was staggered.
“You know how those guys are. If it weren’t for girls, they’d probably all date each other.” Cindy managed a chuckle.
He managed to emit a half assed laugh, and excused himself. He walked straight towards Bryson, only to find them all engrossed in conversation.
“There he is right now,” Bryson informed them, “Tell him, Gable. Tell him what you said to all of us here right now; tell that faggot the truth.”
Declan was taken aback by the insult.
“What?” Declan retorted.
“Tell him, Gable.” Bryson pressed on.
“Tell me what?” Declan looked towards Gable.
Gable stood there, without a clue of what to say. He looked back and forth between his friends and Declan. He could either save his ass, and reputation, or he could throw Declan under the bus, and hope to fix things later on.
“Fine, then, since you’re too much of a pussy,” He directed at Gable, and then turned to look at Declan, “He’s using you. He doesn’t like you; no one fucking likes you. He’s using you for your money. He hates the fuck out of you. So, do us all a favor and get your, psycho, faggot ass the fuck out of here.”
Declan looked at Gable, but Gable couldn’t bring himself to look at him in the eye. The jocks’ jaw was clenched tightly, his brow furrowed and his fists were white at the knuckles.
“Gable, what is he talking about?” Declan asked bewildered.
“You heard him.” He muttered.
“I said…” He cleared his throat, “You heard him. We’re just friends. You know that.”
Gable’s eyes were beginning to fill with tears. Without saying anything else, he attempted to walk away.
“You said you weren’t friends, Gable. Don’t lie to him, or we’re all going think you’re lying to us. Your community. Your friends.” Bryson grabbed his arm.
Gable ripped his arm out of Bryson’s grasp and walked away from the crowd.
“Get the fuck out of here, Declan.” Bryson spat.
“You know what? You don’t own the place. I paid for my all-day pass, and I’m going to stay.” With that, Declan walked back to his seat next to Cindy.
“What happened?” Cindy asked.
“Don’t worry about it, it’s nothing.”
“I wouldn’t say that,” a long dirty blonde haired, girl warned as she neared them, followed by another girl close behind.
“Yeah, what happened?” the other girl asked.
“It’s nothing…” Declan shrugged.
“No, it’s not that easy, Declan. Gable is crying.” The same girl informed him, “He’s outside kicking shit around and shouting.”
“Wait… How do you know my name?” He asked, taken aback.
Brittany rolled her eyes, “I’m Brittany Perkins. I met a couple of your friends… Er…. Sarah and Michael..? A few months back in Crest.”
Declan searched his brain… Brittany Perkins… Brittany…. The girl Michael and Sarah had met from Bethlam… This was her.
“Oh, I remember…” Declan nodded.
“Yeah, June and I just came from outside. We both saw him.” Brittany shook her head.
Declan didn’t have to hear anything else. Without missing a beat, he grabbed his jacket, threw it on, and headed towards the entrance, girls in tow.
“Where is he?” He asked behind him.
“He’s by the dumpsters.” June and Brittany said in hurried unison.
Declan found him. Sitting. Head buried his hands, sobbing.
“Gable…” Declan kneeled next to him and put his hand on his shoulder.
“I’m so sorry.” Gable looked up into his eyes, “I didn’t know what to do.”
“Don’t cry. It’s okay. I understand.” Declan knelt to console him.
Gable looked behind Declan and saw the three girls standing there, sympathetically looking towards them.
“What are they doing here?” He asked worriedly.
“They told me where you were.” He responded as the girls neared.
“Gable, don’t worry.” Cindy assured him.
“We’re not going to say anything.” Brittany promised.
“Swear.” June added.
“About what? There isn’t anything happening. We’re just friends. We’re friends. Right, Declan? You know that, right?” Gable panicked.
He sighed and nodded. What else could he do… Declan knew he had to get out of there, before anything else developed.
“I’m going to go, now…” Declan finally muttered.
He exchanged farewells, and walked over to his car. He sat there for a while, crying; thinking of what had transpired that day. He saw Gable approaching his vehicle. He turned it on, backed up, and left, swiftly, before he had the chance to even tell him to stop.
“How long did you guys go without talking?” Karen asked as she indulged in some yogurt.
“It was about three months, or so. It’s not like we didn’t talk, we just… Cooled things off. After I got back from a family trip to Ruidoso, I ended up buying him a PS3 for Christmas.” Declan looked down, in sorrow.
“Why?” She asked.
“Well, I didn’t want him to be mad at me anymore, and… It was Christmas.” He shrugged.
“Is that when you started binging and purging?”
He looked at her with immense guilt. He closed his eyes and nodded softly. His eyes glazed over, and tears began to trickle down his face.
“Oh, Declan… I didn’t mean to…”
He shook his head, “Don’t worry… This is why I’m here… Yes, that’s when it started getting bad. All I could do was control my weight, since I couldn’t control anything else. Everything was spiraling out of control. I felt like I was failing Gable, so I over compensated.”
He couldn’t help how bad he felt for Gable, when he confided in him how he had never had an actual Christmas. So Declan had done everything in his power to give him the best one ever.
It was as if he was purposely picking at scabs on his heart. It hurt, yet it felt good to externalize them. Rehab, truly, wasn’t as bad as people made it out to be. It was an opportunity to take a look at himself, change what he hated, and let go of all the resentment he held within himself. He was determined to conquer this disease, just as he had conquered his obesity.
“I just remember asking... Begging, the stars above for him to show up.” He buried his scowl in his hand.
“And did he?” Dr. Anderson frothed his chin.
“No, he never did.” Declan conceded.
“How long were you out there?” The therapist inquired monitoring his body language closely.
Declan shook his head and emitted another shrug.
“About two hours... Two hours, and a half,” he scowled, “I texted, called... Nothing. I was there at his cattle barn and he didn’t care.”
His eyes began to swell up, and soon tears streamed down his delicate features. His face had regained color, his cheeks had filled out once more.
“Seems to me like he only showed up when it mattered.”
“No, well...” But he cut him off.
“Declan, you can’t make excuses for him. Take for instance, Christmas. You wanted to see him before your family went on vacation, but he didn’t show up. Then, you neglect your family to talk to him for the entire trip. Oh, but the moment you come back to give him a rather expensive gift, he has time for you? Does that seem right to you?” Dr. Anderson leaned forward, eyebrow raised.
Declan looked away. He couldn’t... He didn’t want to admit to it, but Dr. Anderson was right; Gable had used to him. How was it that everyone could see that except him?
“May I be excused?” He finally muttered, his voice horse.
“We’ll take this up at our next session... Don’t beat yourself up; you were blinded by how much you loved him. Unrequited love can be as dangerous as any drug addiction.” He gave the teen a soft pat on the back and sent him on his way.
Once back in his room, Declan cried out of frustration. How could he have let Gable control and use him like that? But, then again, why had he enabled him? How did he let himself end up in that position?
There are three sides to every story, and Declan was barely coming to terms with his own... Gable, on the other hand, was long from accepting his own version of events.