“Take me back to when you and Gable’s mom established a more… Civil relationship.” Dr. Anderson asked.
“Well, it was… About two months or so after that run-in with his dad.” He began.
It’d been about three months since he had gone to dinner at Gable’s house, and even longer since he’d had to deal with Gable’s friends. Cindy and Bryson had broken up, gotten back together and broken up again, since then. Gable and Declan had worked on things and they seem to be finally getting to the heart of the matter.
It was cold that day, in Bethlam. The skies were dusty, the breeze pierced with its bleak passage. Gable had forgotten his homework and asked Declan to retrieve it for him.
“Can you please go get it for me, babe? I really can’t afford another seventy.” His text read.
Declan was on his way to Rio Rojo already, so stopping on the way wouldn’t be too much of a burden. He replied obliging to his request and headed towards Bethlam.
As he pulled into Gable’s house, he failed to notice Gable’s dad working on Julia’s truck, he was far too distracted by his phone. He sent Gable a text indicating that he’d arrived at his house and asked where he’d left his homework.
Declan walked up to the door and knocked. No answer. He knocked again, and, still, no answer. He looked around, and as he was about to open the door, the door opened to reveal Gable’s mom, Anna.
The last time they’d interacted, he’d witnessed her at a very vulnerable moment. This time around, she looked tired, there were signs of stress on her face, dark circles under her eyes, her face looked sunken in, her hair disheveled.
“What do you want?” She asked coldly.
The color fell from Declan’s face. He knew Gable’s parents weren’t fond of him at all, and to interact with them one on one was something he had not been looking forward to. Without Gable around, he had no defense.
“Uh... Gable… Uh… Uh…” Declan stuttered. He had no idea what was wrong, but he couldn’t bring himself to form a sentence. He stared back at Anna with fear in his eyes.
“What,” She looked him up and down, “Why the fuck are you at my door? Are you so Mexican and gay that you’ve forgotten how to form coherent sentences?” She berated him.
“No, ma’am…” Declan furrowed his brow, “I… Uh…”
Declan couldn’t seem to get his wits about him, what was he supposed to do? Last time she had been warm, and inviting… This time, it was like he was before a jury that had already convicted him to a lifetime sentence, at that.
Anna stared daggers back at him, in anticipation of what the teen before her wanted.
“Well, I don’t have all day,” She pressed on, “If you can’t end this little brain fart, you can go ahead and get the fuck…”
“Gableforgothishomework.” He blurted. His face grimaced as if expecting to stricken across the face, or receive some sort of repercussion.
“Excuse you?” She retorted with an urgent, offended, timbre.
He sighed, “Gable forgot his homework, and asked me to come get it. If that’s okay.”
Anna stared at him, stoically. Why would Gable ask him of all people to retrieve his homework for him? Why was this happening? Why had God brought this burden upon her and her family? These and more were the questions running marathons through her mind at that instant.
“Is it okay?” Declan inquired, “If not, I can just let him know…”
“Come in.” She decided she’d take it upon herself to get down to the bottom of the whole situation. Finally, find the truth behind the rumors.
Declan went into Gable’s room, retrieved the jock’s homework and made his way for the door.
“Not so fast. You come into my house, you talk to me.” Anna stopped him. She pulled a chair out and motioned him to sit.
Declan gulped and reluctantly stepped forwards. He looked deep into her eyes and took a seat. She took the seat across from him, placed her elbows on top the table and linked her fingers. Her sullen eyes examined his face, his clothing… No detail was left unanalyzed.
“Declan, I want you to tell me the truth,” She began, “This stays between us. This is your chance to come clean about what is going on with you and my son.”
Her tone was stern. Her jaw clenched. Declan was immensely intimidated by her. What was he supposed to say?
“The sooner you tell me, the sooner you can go take him his homework. So, start talking.” She pressed.
Declan decided to trust her and told her everything. He recounted their times on the tiger league football team, meeting again in Crest, being friends… Everything. The whole time she stayed reclined in her seat, contemplating everything the teen was telling her.
“… And, well… Here we are.” He concluded.
Anna leaned forward again, lowered her head, sighed, and looked at him. It wasn’t until then that she looked at him for what he was. A human being. She and him were no different, she realized.
He genuinely loved Gable, and she could tell by his words that he wasn’t trying to just sleep with him or cause trouble. His feelings were true and his intentions were pure. She hated herself for not being able to accept it, but she knew there wasn’t much she could do to keep them apart.
“Alright,” She finally uttered.
Declan was hesitant as to what that meant, exactly. He looked around, as if to defuse the situation, but there was nothing he could come up with that would make things less awkward.
“Is there anything else you need to know?” He inquired, after a while.
“Yes,” she commenced, “I need to know that you’re not going to give him any more money. I don’t need your help, nor do I want it. It’s a nice gesture, but you leave me in charge of my family. I have done this since they were born, and I will continue to do this on my own, you understand?”
Declan clenched his jaw, he couldn’t just stop helping Gable out. He wanted to give him everything he asked for, and more. He loved him, and it would pain him to deny him of anything he wanted.
“Do. You. Understand?” Anna asked him again.
“Yes,” he finally obliged, “I swear I won’t give him any more money.”
“Good,” she nodded, “Go take him his homework.”
He nodded and walked towards the door.
“Declan,” she stopped him, “Thank you for being candid with me… I appreciate your honesty. I can tell you really love him.”
He smiled back, “You’re welcome; any time.”
As he walked towards his car, he looked back at Julia’s truck, Rance looked up, and waved goodbye. Did he know? Did he remember him? He waved back, but hastily got in his car; he didn’t want to go back and ask him, lest he stir up emotions. He decided to take Gable his homework, and get back on the road towards the gym.
He drove back towards the main road, but before he passed Gable’s house, he was signaled by Rance to pull over. Nervously, he pulled over, parked and got out.
“Yes, Mr. Cask?” He asked nervously. He gulped, his stomach sank, his mouth dried.
“Will you help me with something?” He motioned towards Julia’s truck.
“Yes, definitely.” He obliged.
They walked over to the truck, and he motioned towards the toolbox.
“Hand me a wrench,” He asked, so Declan did, “Look, I get it. I get what you and Gable are doing, and I just want you to know, that… I’m not the biggest fan of it, but… You’ve been there for my family recently, and that’s more than I can say. It takes a very selfless man to want to help someone else out.”
Declan furrowed his brow.
“Hand me the antifreeze,” He handed him the wrench back, “I may not be the best example of a man, or even an honorable man of God,” He continued, “but, I know right, and I know wrong… And I have the good grace to know which is which. I’m not one to tell you what to do, but… Now that I know a bit about you, I just want you to know, that… I wish you luck, in everything you do. You seem like a respectable young man with a good head on his shoulders.”
Declan smiled, his eyes began to fill with tears.
“Don’t cry,” Rance shook his head, “Just promise me that you won’t hurt my son, and that you’ll push yourself to the limit, like we expect from him.”
He nodded, “I swear I will never do anything to hurt Gable, and I won’t let you down.”
Rance extended his hand towards Declan, “Go for the gold, boy. If you’re going to do something, do it; don’t do anything half assed.”
“So you just told her everything?” He asked, “And his dad was totally okay with it?”
“Pretty much, save for… The intimate details. I did tell her we were safe, though… So, there’s that.” Declan answered, “As for his dad… It was an out of body experience. I didn’t quite understand where it came from, but it meant so much.”
“I see,” Dr. Anderson nodded, “Did you ever interact with his dad again?”
Declan sat back. Truth was, he did, eventually, interact with Gable’s dad a couple times after that, but… They weren’t positive memories. The memories flashed in his head in rapid succession, but he decided against rehashing those memories. They were far too private to rehash… Nothing sexual, just memories that were best left untouched.
“We’ll leave that alone, then,” He looked at his watch, “Very quickly, tell me, had your parents brought up any concerns to you about your weight loss?”
He fidgeted in his seat. They had definitely noticed, but he had reassured them he was being vigilant about his health, and that had been enough to keep them at bay.
“All they had to know was that it was all part of ‘The Plan’,” Declan clenched his jaw.
Dr. Anderson glowered, “I see. Well, we’ll come back to this. I’m very proud of how far you’ve come, Declan; you’ve done great.”
Declan smile, and nodded, before walking out and returning to his room.