Written by Rodney Norman
This short story (titled “I Hadn’t Anyone Until You”) is loosely based on a real-life event.
This is a story of the last moments of a dying man with his loving father.
“Get your gay, faggoted ass out of my house, you nasty vile wicked MF…!!”
Those words came out of my conflicted mother’s mouth the tragic day she caught me in the basement giving my older cousin, Steven, oral sex, in exchange for some fireworks. We were so into it that we did not even hear her come down the stairs and into the laundry room.
I will never forget that balmy July weekend in Texas. My dad was an over-the-road truck driver and never home. So, any little thing could be over-exaggerated in our household. As I got older, I realized my mom’s drinking problem was from loneliness and not just catching her son and nephew having sexual pleasure.
She supposedly had gone to a bar with friends. But she came back to the house to tell my cousin to stay a night, because, as usual, she would be gone for a while. Little did she know my big cousin was supplying me in the basement. I was so embarrassed that I left home at 14, and stayed with my paternal grandmother. Until she died from a massive stroke, sending me into the army.
I didn’t see much of my mom or my dad. However, he did come up to the base in San Diego to see me from time to time. My big cousin Steven had gone on to marry a lovely woman and raise five kids.
While, as mom said, my faggoted ass was a gay serviceman living off Uncle Sam. In the Army, I met a lot of closeted guys and girls; it was hard keeping it together. I did my job and kept my mouth shut. After serving and getting educated, I became a school teacher and met a gay man named, Roger. Roger was the reason why I am now at 35, sitting in the living room of my suburban Dallas Grand Prairie 2-bedroom apartment, sipping tea and about to take yet another “cocktail”.
Not your traditional cocktail but the one that’s been keeping me alive. I was diagnosed with HIV 8 years ago, and then it turned into full-blown AIDS recently. My T-cells were leaving me like a blown save; I had constant diarrhoea, my muscles were wasting away and I was losing my mind and my vision.
However, the worst case of all was losing the wonderful dreadlocks that took me 4 years to grow, due to the medication and my illness. My beloved Rodger died of AIDS a year after I met him, which prompted me to get tested. Lo and behold, I had the welcome package as well. I loved that dude, his voice kept me stirring and the sex was wild and lasting. So much so it didn’t last as long as life. He wasn’t the first man that I claimed to love, but he did give the true meaning of “till death do us part” in our short relationship span.
It was so funny how we met, I was fresh in my new office with the Army. I was a sergeant and working as a recruiting secretary. I didn’t take the other position that my colleague thought was more fitting. A base Director of Deployment; my little soft ass would be crying firing someone doing something improper.
I was in a San Diego coffee shop, I believe Starbucks near the San Diego Chargers football stadium. It was a warm, breezy fall morning and I did have the desire to watch a football game. The Chargers were playing the St Louis Rams and I was a Rams’ fan. Roger walked in looking quite tasty – he had on a muscle tank top and the sexiest Robin jeans he could find in the store.
Roger: Hey, is anyone sitting with you? It looked so crowded today. I guess it is coffee and then the football game, huh?
Me: I guess, sure have a seat.
I was grinning like Rupaul with a touch of Greg Louganis. So I assumed at that moment this handsome black man clocked me in as gay on the Richter scale.
Roger: Cool, I’m just going to go grab my coffee, I will be right back.
I couldn’t contain myself, San Diego was as gay friendly as San Francisco, so this type of meeting wasn’t unusual. Especially when you have a gay man like me who is easy to scope. He got his frozen latter and napkin and sat in front of me.
Roger: So, you come for coffee before the game too?
Me: No, actually. I had to do some paperwork at the office and I just was in here to chill before going home. I do like football and thought about going.
Roger: Let’s go, and then afterwards you can give me some head.
I almost dropped the coffee on the floor. I couldn’t believe this stranger said this to me. But he knew I was liking that shyt. So fuck it, I went to the game with him. Jack Murphy Stadium on a very bustling thoroughfare was occupied with people hungry for a game. We parked our cars and went and got our tickets. When it was all said and done, the Rams beat the Chargers and Roger beat me real good on the hotel bed.
We became lovers 4 months later. Then 6 months later, he got sick and moved away, calling me afterwards to tell me to go get tested. However, I didn’t get sick until a year later. And here we are.
My dad, Donald, was now 68, retired from trucking, living on a retired income as a widower. My poor long-suffering mother, a woman who had never had a kind word to say to me for over 20 years, was now deceased from liver cancer.
Poor soul, but how can I blame her. You want your child to grow up, get sophisticated, have a family and a great career. You don’t want to come down into a damp dirty basement to see your son on their knees having oral pleasure with your own nephew. So, I can’t say I blame her.
My younger sisters, Karen and Alyanna loathed me for my mother’s miseries over the years. My older sibling by my dad’s first wife didn’t care, especially Lula Mae, who was about 10 years older than me. I would send Karen and Alyanna Christmas and birthday gifts, only for them to be returned to my then San Diego apartment.
After I collapsed from a weak heart, my dad found me an assisted living apartment near his place. My dear old dad, what he didn’t see didn’t hurt him. Those words were my aunt Loella’s quotes for the reason he stayed in my corner. I believe that to be true, because what if he was home that basement day? He probably would have beaten my ass.
It wouldn’t have mattered because I told my cousin if he gave me the fireworks for free, what I could do to him. He was 18 and a horny toad, so he took up my offer. I knew I was attracted to boys at the age of 5. We never talked about it ever again, still today I haven’t seen him or his family. Except for a few posts he made on Facebook, and that’s because I be stalking my sister’s page.
As I coughed up this wicked phlegm, that is germs from my dying body, I sipped my tea and continued to watch my favourite show – the Beverly Hillbillies reruns. I awaited a visit from my dad. My dad was still going strong, always there for me. My protector, my buddy, my best friend. When everyone had turned their backs on me, my dad has always stayed by my side. Even my stepmom Daniela, a mix breed woman who was around my age, was there. She made some delicious soup the other day, but my poor stomach couldn’t last. I had diarrhoea for hours. I didn’t tell her that I just thanked her for the thought.
Dad entered my apartment with some juice I liked and Ritz crackers, the only thing I could hold down.
Dad: How ya feeling kid?
Me: I have been better, Dad. How are you, pappy?
Dad: I am great, did you eat some more soup?
Me: (fake smile) Yes I did. Let me have some crackers.
He handed me the crackers and a few lottery scratch-off tickets
Me: Thank sir, let’s see if I can win a few millions to pay you back.
Dad: Pay me back for what? You are my boy, and I love you boy.
He patted me on the back as he stared at the space.
Me: Sit down, Dad, we need to talk.
Dad: Okay, my boy.
Me: Dad, I can’t take this pain anymore.
My dad looked at me like I said something bad about his favourite President, Barack Obama.
Dad: What are you saying, son?
Me: Dad, I am wasting away, look at me. I am not a magazine cover anymore. I went into my chest drawer and put on my old Army uniform and it hung on me like a long dress. I am not keeping my food down, I can barely think.
Dad stood up in total fear.
Dad: Lamar, what are you getting at, boy?
Me: Dad, I want you to hold my hand while I take all these 20 bottles of pills and kill myself.
Dad: Lamar, you must be out of your mind! Don’t say shit like that. I am your father, and I will not let you do that.
My dad hugged me, we both cried until I fell asleep. When I did wake up, this sweet old man I loved more than my old weak dying body, had carried me to my bed. Washed me up and placed me under the covers.
My cane was by my bedside, and he was in the room on the couch asleep and snoring. I just lost it. I boohooed like a baby, just like that time I was watching Catherine Chancellor die on The Young and the Restless. I reached in my hall closet and got a throw to put on my dad so he wouldn’t get chilly while sleeping. And I slowly walked back into my room.
The next morning he had fixed me breakfast that I never would eat, and some coffee. He left to tend to his wife and I was alone again. I felt better knowing at the least that he had an idea that I wanted to kill myself. Now, getting him to be there during the process would be the hard part.
The next month after a doctor’s visit, he came back inside the apartment with me. He was a statue of a man, a man that I wished I could have lived long enough to become. My tall brown-skinned dad, all handsome and built like the linebacker on the San Francisco 49ers teams. We had stopped by Walgreen’s to get some ice cream and my prescription. There were a lot of people staring at me.
Why not? I was frail and looked like a horror story. Yet my mind was alive and confused at times. We also ordered Chinese take-outs and decided to catch the rest of the day time soaps. I ate the ice cream while he enjoyed the take-outs. We sat in silence and he kept staring at me.
Dad: You and them damn soaps. (His laugh was so warm and hearty)
Me: Yes sir, I remember mama used to have us held up in the living room watching soaps as kids.
Dad: Oh before I forget, Lula Mae told me to give you her new phone number, she is in Arlington now.
Me: Oh cool, good to know one of the siblings care.
Dad: Yes, Darrell is moving to Chicago soon.
Me: Oh my big brother is doing it up, huh.
Dad: Yes, he told me to tell you he is praying.
Me: Oh yeah for my birthday he sent me a Visa gift card, I still have not used it. If you need anything take it.
Dad: No, you need it. Might get a big appetite soon and want to go out to eat.
Me: Never, Dad. I don’t have that energy anymore.
Dad: Well, I told Daniela what you wanted to do.
Me: Aw, Dad, that was to be our little secret.
I gave him a not so disappointing look, but a look of care and caution.
Dad: She supports your decision, and she even said she would sit with you.
Me: Wow, are you serious?
Dad: But let’s talk about that later. Can I just enjoy my second-born son while you are here?
Me: Yes dad, now eat your food.
We talked some more and laughed; he fell asleep on the couch and I watched some game shows. I believe my dad was coming around even more, because maybe he felt like I wanted to go. At the least, he would have spent enough time with me.
Winter came so fast and with AIDS, this is not our favourite moment. We are anaemic and cold all the time. Any little cold or flu can send us to the emergency room. My last doctor visit bought me some bad news. My T-cells were below normal, and they discovered a mass on my rectum.
I wanted to cry, but all I could do was thank the Lord for bringing me here this far. I cried because I wanted to live to see the big 40. My bestie, Carlos, and his lover flew in from California to celebrate Christmas with me. His lover stayed at the hotel, while Carlos became my night nurse after dad had gone home.
I knew something was up when Lula Mae popped in with her grandkids with presents for me. Dad told her it was getting bad for me. A condition so bad that my legs were failing me and I couldn’t dress myself. Then here came the pain and constipation.
After a few days, Christmas was gone. It was a light snow, which wasn’t unusual for Dallas, and I found myself in the apartment alone. My surgery to remove the mass was coming up. I didn’t even question my doctor because I knew it was cancerous.
I had made up my mind that I wasn’t going through with any surgery, or a battle with cancer. I made my way to the bathroom, looked in the mirror and saw this monster that was me.
I then grabbed every pill bottle that I could find. I wrote a nice note to everyone and grabbed my Bible. I prayed a little and got dressed in a nice sweater and slacks. It was time and I decided to go through it alone.
The pills felt so good going in, there was no more pain. Sorry, Dad, I love you.
Rodney Norman is the VP of Content Acquisition, Dynasty Television.