Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Man from Swift Current Chapter Twelve - A Day At The Races

Chapter Twelve – A Day At The Races

I must have fallen back to sleep because I was jolted awake by my cousin, Keith, pulling the blankets off of me and shaking me and shouting in my ear, “Wake up sleepy head!   It’s almost noon!   You can’t sleep all day!   Come on!   Hurry up and get cleaned up!  It’s almost time to leave for the race track!”

I rubbed the sleep from my eyes as I yawned and stretched, “Okay, okay!   I’m moving!   You don’t have to make so much noise!   When are we leaving?”

“We are leaving as soon as you’re ready.   Grandpa and Grandma have already left as have Mom and Dad.   Roger, you and I are driving over together since you seemed to need your beauty sleep!” Keith said.  “Now hurry up and take a quick shower and get ready!  We’ll wait for you downstairs!” he shouted over his shoulder, as he left my room.

I quickly showered, brushed my teeth and combed my hair.   It promised to be a very hot day, so I pulled out a navy blue tight-fitting athletic shirt that would breathe and help me stay cool and my favorite khaki shorts and flip-flops.   I took a quick look in the mirror to make sure I looked okay.   My grey-blue eyes were a little red still, but other than that, I was satisfied with the image I saw reflected in the mirror.   I have always taken good care of my body with lots of exercise and eating healthy.   I grabbed my sunglasses and raced down the stairs to find Keith and Roger waiting for me at the front door.

As I stood next to Keith, Roger exclaimed, “Boy, you look more like Keith’s twin brother than I do!   I really didn’t notice it last night but now that I see you two together in the full light of day, it really is pretty evident that you’re related to us!”

“Okay, okay, enough talking, Roger, let’s get going or we will miss the race!” Keith said, as he pushed Roger towards the door.

We climbed into Roger’s car and headed over to the Southern National Raceway where the races were to be held today.   It’s just a short distance from Selma and it didn’t take us long to get there.   Roger parked the car and we hurried to the gate to pay the entrance fee and started searching for the rest of the family.   We found them sitting in the stands in front of the finish line.   They saved us some seats and had already purchased lunch for us.   Being teenagers, 18 (me) and 19 (the twins), it didn’t take us long to finish off the goodies.   We thanked Uncle Stan and Aunt Sharon and settled down to watch the races.   It was hotter than Hades sitting there in the sun.   I thought I was going to die of a heat stroke, if it got any hotter.   Uncle Stan must have noticed my discomfort, because he kept passing over bottles of cold soda and water from the cooler next to him in the stands.

“Hey! Heads up everyone!   Grandma’s race is about to begin!” shouted Roger.   Sure enough, I saw Grandma sitting in her black Porsche revving the engine with a look of determination on her face.   I still couldn’t believe that the woman behind the wheel was my Grandma!   I’d always thought of her as being very prim and proper and VERY lady-like.   Not in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would be sitting in the stands watching her race her car!

The race began and we were all on our feet cheering as loud as we could.   Grandma won her qualifying race and went on to win the 1st place trophy.   We were all excited about Grandma’s big win.   We all went down to the podium where they presented her with the trophy and the prize money for winning 1st place.   We were all very proud of her.   I gave a special congratulatory hug and a quick kiss on the cheeck as I exclaimed, “Wow!!   That was fantastic Grandma!”

“Thank you, Glenn.   I’m so glad you were here to support me and see the race.   It’s all about supporting one another in the pursuit of our dreams, sweetheart.   Mine has always been race car driving ever since I was a little girl.   I love racing and hope to keep doing it until my body won’t let me do it anymore.   In other words, I will probably be ready to leave this life when that happens,” she said, with a laugh.

I was lost in the crowd for a moment as Grandma turned to speak with her friends and others who came up to congratulate her on her win.

Keith and I drove home with the grandparents just like we did on the drive up from Georgia, since Roger had to go to work.

As I got buckled up, Grandma asked, “What’s going on with you, Glenn?”

“Why do you ask that, Grandma?” I responded, hoping she wouldn’t ask any more questions.

“Keith told me that you were pretty upset about something last night.   He was just a little worried about you and told me about walking into your room as you were attempting to destroy the bed,” she said.

I just sat there too stunned to answer her.   I had no idea Keith would tell my GRANDMOTHER of all people.   I wasn’t sure what to say so I didn’t say anything.

“You don’t have to tell me about it now if you aren’t ready to talk.   I am always willing to listen whenever you need to talk.   Okay, Glenn?” she asked.

“Sure, Grandma, I will let you know when I am ready to talk about it.   Thank you for being there for me,” I said with relief.   I thought for sure she would press me about it.   I just wasn’t ready to talk to anyone about it right now.   The wounds were still too fresh and talking about it would just make them hurt even more.   I was especially angry at Keith for telling her about it!

When we got back to the house, I quickly climbed the stairs to my room.   I really didn’t want to face Keith right now after the conversation I’d just had with Grandma.   However, Keith took the stairs two at a time and caught up to me just as I was opening my bedroom door.

“Hey! Can we talk?” Keith asked me, as he grabbed by the shoulder and turned me around.

“Yeah, I guess so,” I replied, as I stepped away from him and went into my room.   I was totally furious with him for talking to Grandma instead of talking to me first.   I was trying not to show how angry I was with him, but my face must have given my feelings away because Keith came to a sudden halt in the middle of the room as I sat down on my bed.

“Why did you tell Grandma about me being upset last night?   Why didn’t you talk to me first?” I asked, with as much civility as I could muster at the moment.

“I’m sorry, Glenn, I was just a little worried about you that’s all.   Grandma has always been there for me and I can talk to her about almost anything.   I thought maybe you would want to talk to someone and who better to talk to than her?” Keith asked.

“Keith, it was something very personal to me and you shouldn’t have talked to her about me in the first place!   How would you feel if you shared something deeply personal with me and I went about telling people about it?”

“Okay, okay, I messed up.   I said I was sorry!” he said, a little heatedly.

When I didn’t respond right away, Keith continued, “Can we at least continue to be friends?”

His remorseful look melted the hardness I felt in my heart and I stood up and pulled him into a quick embrace. “Okay, I forgive you.   Just don’t do it, again, okay?”

I sat down on my bed, again, and he sat down next to me and asked, “Do you want to talk about what happened last night?”

“Not really.  I am still too upset about it and very hurt,” I said.

“You know, they say you can lighten your burden if you share it.   I think you really need to talk to someone, before you go totally crazy on us like you did last night when I walked into the room and saw you crying, shouting and punching out the pillows on the bed,” Keith said, his concern showing in his voice.

“Alright, I do need to talk with someone.   I need to get my head straightened out.   You have to promise me you will never, ever, tell another soul!   Swear it!”  I said, looking Keith in the eyes.

“I promise I won’t tell anyone anything unless you give me permission,” Keith said, crossing his heart.

“My boyfriend dumped me and is engaged to be married in a couple of weeks to his old girlfriend,” I said, with as much composure as I could muster.

“What a scum bag!   Hey! Did you say, ‘boyfriend’?   You said you were dumped last night.   I thought you meant by your girlfriend,” Keith said, as he processed the information I had just shared with him.

“Yeah, I’m gay and I have, well, had a boyfriend for most of our senior year.   At graduation, he said he loved me.   But after he didn’t return my text messages or my phone calls, I tried calling his cell phone last night and his mom answered his phone.   She apologized for her son not returning my phone calls and messages.   She also told me of his imminent marriage to his supposedly 'ex-girlfriend.'   That is why I was going to crazy last night,” I said.

“I wish I could get hold of him because I would punch his lights out for him!” Keith exclaimed.  “Nobody messes with this family and gets away with it!”

“Thank you for your loyalty, Keith, but I can’t blame anyone but myself this time.   I ignored my uncle’s advice and I wanted to believe everything was okay,” I said.   “We never got around to talking about us and our future.   We never even brought up the topic of our future together, other than where we wanted to go to college,” I said.   “I hope we can still be friends, Keith.   Having someone gay in the family can be difficult, sometimes.   I should know since my brother, Randy, is gay as well.”

“Your being gay is okay with me, Glenn.   However, I do have to emphasize the fact that I’m perfectly happy being straight!   I enjoy girls too much to even look at a guy that way!” Keith exclaimed.

“So we’re good then?” I asked.

“Yes, we’re good.   But you better not tell anyone else you’re gay.   They get pretty violent about those kinds of things around here.  If you know what’s good for you, you’d better change your mind about being gay.   Or at least, put on a good show of being straight.   There are too many rednecks who will take it upon themselves to enlighten you.   And I don’t mean that in a nice way.   Being gay is very dangerous.  You could very well end up dead on some out of the way back road.   I’m not exaggerating!   Please take my warning seriously, cousin!   There may be laws against such violence but it doesn’t stop it from happening!   Have you ever heard of a group called the Ku Klux Clan?” Keith asked.

“No.   Remember, I grew up in Canada.   We don’t have the same problems you Americans do with racial prejudice,” I said.

“Really?   What about Quebec?   Isn’t that about race?” Keith asked.

“No, that’s not the same thing as being black or white,” I said.

“Yes, it is.   It’s the same kind of thing because it comes from thinking you are better than someone else.   We, Americans, have our problems but don’t think that you don’t have some of the same types of things happening north of the border,” Keith said, giving me a meaningful glance.

“Maybe, but we are much more civilized in our discussions about it than you folks.   We don’t go around killing people because they are different than we are,” I replied, just a little heatedly.

“Okay, I will give you that much.   Now tell me more about this Ian character that has you in such a terrible mental and emotional state,” Keith said.

I proceeded to tell him all about how we first met, our ensuing friendship and how we became lovers.   I also told him about my talk with Uncle Dave and the advice he’d given me about Ian and gay relationships.

“So why didn’t you listen to your Uncle Dave?   You should have taken his advice to talk to Ian about your relationship,” Keith said.

“I know that now.   At the time, I was too afraid to talk to Ian about it.   I didn’t want to lose him.   I thought he would dump me if I tried to push him about what our relationship meant to him.   I know now that was a big mistake,” I said.

“Maybe you should talk to a counselor about it.   There is this really cool guy on the counseling staff at Georgia Tech.   I have a couple of friends that have had therapy with him when they’ve had tough things happen to them.   I’ll introduce you to him when we go down to my apartment.   What do you think about that?”  Keith asked.

“I don’t think I need to see a counselor.   I’m not going to commit suicide or do harm to anyone else,” I replied disdainfully.

“I’m glad to hear that but I still think it would help you deal with this if you talked to a professional about it.   Will you at least consider it?”  Keith asked.

“Okay, as long as you quit pestering me about it!”  I said, more than a little annoyed  Keith thought I needed a shrink!

“Let’s go downstairs to see what’s for supper.   I’m starved!” Keith said, as he walked to the door and opened it.

“Sure, I will be right down.   Thanks, Keith, for listening to me.   Don’t forget your promise not to tell anyone else,” I said.

“You got it, cuz!” Keith said, as he bounded down the steps two at a time.   Boy, that kid is so hyper sometimes!   He’s always trying to do things as fast as he can, like taking the steps two at a time!

After taking care of nature’s call, I washed my hands and headed downstairs to the dining room.   Everyone was there and was just about to ask a blessing on the food.   I took my seat next to Keith and we started our meal.   It was good to listen to everyone talking excitedly about Grandma’s great race and how proud we were of her accomplishments.   Listening to them made me miss my Mom and Dad and the many times we sat around the dinner table talking, sometimes for hours after we had finished eating.   I really cherished those times and the lively conversations we had among ourselves about every subject under the sun.  

My reverie was broken when Keith touched my arm and asked, “Are you ready to get beat at video games?”

“You think you can beat me do you?” I asked, with a hint of a challenge in my voice.

“Yeah, I think this Georgian can beat a Canadian anytime!”  Keith exclaimed.

“If that’s true, how come you lost to me in a foot race the other day?”  I asked, grinning widely.

“Oh, that was just beginner’s luck.   It won’t happen a second time!”   Keith said with a big grin on his face.

“Okay, dude, let’s go see who is right:  you or me!” I said.

“Can we be excused from the table?” Keith asked his parents.

Aunt Sharon replied, “Sure, just make sure you come back down for dessert later.”

We both got up from the table and headed to the game room.   We spent a couple of hours playing video games.   Needless to say, I beat the pants off of him many times.   Finally, after beating him again, he turned to me and said, “Alright, you win!   But you won’t win the next foot race!”

“Don’t be so sure, cousin.   Just like in video games, I plan to beat you every time we have a foot race!”  I responded enthusiastically.

“Let’s go get that promised dessert,” Keith said, laughing.

We went back to the kitchen and sat down to a generous helping of pecan pie.   It was so heavenly I don’t have words to describe how good it tasted.   It was so rich!   After eating our pie, we headed upstairs for the night.

“Glenn, I’m glad you decided to come to visit with us for the summer.   It is so great to have someone to hang out with and I enjoy being with you,” Keith said, smiling at me.

“Me, too,” I said as I shut the door to my bedroom and collapsed onto my bed.   I finally got myself out of my clothes and climbed into bed.   My mind still kept racing; going over things in my head.   The anger I felt seemed to be diminishing but the hurt I felt inside seemed to be getting worse.   I could tell it was going to be another rough night.

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