Yesterday was release day for a book I wrote called Beacon, book one of the Nation of Five series. The book is about young men and an impossible task they set before themselves. Well, I know a lot about impossible tasks. I’m a DID survivor who suffers from hallucinations. I have bipolar and Non-24-Hour Sleep-Wake Disorder. Getting through a day where I make dinner, hang out with my kids, be a husband to my wife, and not end the day screaming, is the completion of an impossible task. Well, it may be an impossible task that’s undertaken in the book Beacon, but it’s only even considered because of the friendship between four boys. Four teenage boys attempt this daunting feat. Got me thinking about the boys and men in my life. And so this weekend to celebrate the release of Beacon, I will be dropping upon you chapters from Reality of the Unreal Mind. These chapters are from the unreleased third volume, titled The Keep. I start at 7:30 in the evening on Friday, and will end at 9 at night on Sunday. So follow me now into the story of the men who made me possible.
During Ty’s senior year, he and Precious started dating. Or else they didn’t. Look, I don’t know when it happened, and I don’t want to write their story for them. The fact is that I don’t know and I will not make it up. Precious came back into my life after I had graduated and after I had broken up with Mary. It was during that time of my life when I was waiting for Destiny to come back to me. And I was not dating anyone.
Part of it was that I didn’t want to be dating anyone when she did come back, but most of it was that I was just poisoned. I had been in a toxic relationship for so long and I just needed to work out all the venom. I was not dating anyone. Spending my weekends and other nights with Bubbly, and I was in a holding pattern.
I can’t believe I just said that. Forget that. I have always hated that phrase. The truth was, I was suspended. I was waiting for the next thing to happen. This was after the Degenerates and before the Droogs. Before Bekah, but not yet past Destiny. It was a time of nothingness, until Precious showed up and gave me a bit of a life.
See Ty and her were dating, and he was in college. Now here is where I should take the time to look up how far his college was from my house and how long a trip it was. But none of that is important to the story. It was a drive, a long drive, that Precious’s mother and father did not want her taking alone. So she showed up at my house and picked me up. We drove out to the college and spent our weekends there.
This happened maybe six times, maybe seven, and that is when I met Hitchhiker. I call him that because I picked him up on my way to manhood and he taught me about myself and sealed a crack that Chalice had put in me. He would help me answer the nagging question, was I gay? I had never tried being with a man. Could I say I was straight until I had my first gay experience?
The answer is simple. If you are gay, you know it. If you are straight, you know it. But Chalice left me with questions and until I made peace with it, I could not really move on. Hitchhiker helped me with that.
We drove to Culver-Stockton. It was about a two and a half, maybe three-hour drive. I drove a lot of the time. Probably four hours. Feel free to check me. St. Robert, Culver-Stockton college. Look on Google maps. Send me an email, let me know how wrong I am. I’m gonna go with three hours and forty-three minutes. God bless. I was a sketchy driver at the time, taking way close and dangerous of chances when passing large numbers of cars on back and curving roads. Precious kept yelling at me but never made me pull over. Never told me no when I asked if I could drive. So I kept the wicked turns and the speeding, and for the first time, I felt alive. My blood was pumping and I was whole again.
By the time we got to Culver-Stockton, I was high. Excited to talk, hang out with Ty and Bravo.
Bravo had come up here a year earlier. Him and Ty were close, so they decided on the same school, and Ty rushed Bravo’s fraternity. Now I will not be calling it a frat. Bravo was quick to tell me that you call your country a country and not a— well, I will let you draw your own conclusions about his analogy, but he made it clear what I was to call it. Out of respect for him, I will honor that.
Ty rushed, and by the second semester he was a Delta something, or a Theta something, again I won’t butcher it by making it up. I don’t remember what house they were in, but Hitchhiker was a member too, and though Ty did not live in the fraternity house, they were roommates. I met Hitchhiker the first time I went on one of these trips, and Precious warned me to behave.
See, Chalice had told them all, when I stopped going to his house and I stopped answering his calls, that it was because I was a homophobe. So Precious was quick to point out that Hitchhiker was gay and told me not to be a dick. I assured her I would not, but until the first night, I don’t think she believed me.
We got there and I met him, and he was cool. Really cool. He was handsome. He dressed well. Always knew what to say. He was hilarious, and he was easy to be around. I liked him almost instantly. We got ready for the party and we buzzed off.
That Saturday Ty, Hitchhiker, and Bravo’s fraternity was having a party out of town in someone’s barn, and we got there early. I’m pretty sure Bravo was the DJ, but I might be making that up. I was not a drinker. Hitchhiker had promised not to drink and said he would get everyone home, so we watched Ty and Precious get drunk, and hung out with a fraternity.
Bravo was in it. He had little time for me, and I stood with him and watched him do his thing, every now and then trying to talk to him. But the music was huge, and all talking in the dancing room was impossible. The staging area had all the drinks. Some liquor but three kegs, and a few big guys who were keeping order. I will say that again, a few BIG GUYS who were keeping order. I will say it again. A few, not one, not two, not three, a few. Few is a funny word. Sometimes eight is a few. Sometimes three is a few. I can tell you it wasn’t three. Let’s continue and just acknowledge it was a few.
Well, not far into the party, Ty and Precious are drunk. Not long after that, Ty and Precious are wasted, and when things get to a certain point, me and Hitchhiker decide to pull the plug.
“Get Precious,” he said. “I’ll pull the car around front.”
This was a bad mistake. I just didn’t know it. How could I guess? How could I possibly know? I should have known. I should have been well aware. You can go back in this series, look at how long I’ve known Precious, and draw your own conclusions. I drew none of those conclusions. My focus that night was on Hitchhiker. Maybe you and I can come to this understanding together tonight. I walked with the goddess of all drama queens into the staging area to get her coat.
I grabbed Precious and she looked at me with confusion. “Where is Ty?” she asked.
“Hitchhiker is getting him in the car. We need to get your coat and then we need to get out of here.”
“Where is Ty? I want Ty.”
“I will take you to him but I need to get your coat on you.”
I get her to the staging area and in the middle of the room she yells out, “I don’t want to go with you! I want Ty!”
I hope you guys can see how bad this is. You do see the problem here, right? There are about eight, big, beef-eating muthafuckers looking at me and thinking about their fraternity brother and this girl.
I took my hands off of her and looked at her.
“Stop it right now!” I said. “You’re being a baby and a bit of a bitch.” I’m talking loud, letting everyone in the room hear me. “Do you see those guys over there? They don’t know that Ty is one of my best friends, that Hitchhiker is getting the car and that I am taking you to him. What they see is me trying to leave with Ty’s girl and they are on their way over here to try to kick in my fucking skull!” Guardian thought he might be able to handle three, but eight was way too many for him. Assassin was ready. Shadow was ready. He was numb from all the cold that his life had become about. But Guardian knew this was getting out of hand.
“Now get your shit together and let those guys know you’re being a bitch, and let’s get out of here. Ty is waiting for you in the car!”
She laughed. She hugged me and said sorry. She looked at the eight bulls, can we call them giants—let’s just refer to them as monsters—against the wall and shook her head. “He is a dear friend,” she said. “I’ve known him most of my life. He is taking me to see Ty. I’m just really, really drunk. I am being a bitch.” She laughed again and slumped on me. “I think I might be sick.”
“Then let’s get your coat and get out of here before I have to mop your fucking mess.”
We got her coat and got out to the car, and she heaved quite a bit right next to the door. I thanked her, shoved her into her two-door car, and tried not to cover my boots with vomit.
“She damn near got me killed,” I said to Hitchhiker. “Next time you get Precious and I get Ty.”
“Well Ty wanted to stay. I damn near had to hit him over the head and drag him away. Finally he vomited and damn near hit me with it and then decided that yeah, he was done.”
“He didn’t get you?” I said.
“I’m spry,” Hitchhiker said with a laugh.
All the way to the dorm, and we dropped them off. We are not tired yet and we are hungry.
“Food,” he whispered. It had taken us a while to undress them to our satisfaction and get them in bed. They had lots to say about how much they loved us and how much they loved each other. And how much they loved us and how much they loved each other. And how much— You get it.
When he said food my stomach rolled.
“I’m buying,” he said.
We were out of there and we found this little diner a bit out of town and stopped to eat.
I remember staring at him thinking I had never seen a more beautiful man. He had a laugh. He had the hair. He had this really cool jacket that came to about his thighs. It was a short trench coat. I don’t know what the style is. I guess I could look it up, but fuck it. He had a cool coat. We talked and it was easy.
I talked about Mary. About how lonely I was and how nothing was going right. I told him I wanted to write and I wanted to study literature but I was nowhere, going nowhere, and I was pretty fucked.
I don’t know what he said to me but by the end of the dinner, or breakfast, we were friends.
When we got back to the dorm, he was going to sleep in the floor, but I told him we could fit in the bunk and we laid down. I kept all of my clothing on. He did, too. I laid on the edge, him by the wall, and I rolled away from him, looking at the railing, and tried to fall asleep.
But Chalice’s words kept playing in my head. The quick change that he had made from, ‘you are not gay, and gay guys know they are gay from birth,’ to ‘you will never know until you try,’ was swimming in my head. Finally I felt Hitchhiker touch my hair and I flinched. I spun and he pulled back, pressing himself against the wall.
“Sorry. I am sorry. You have beautiful hair. I read the night wrong,” he said.
I rolled over on my back and looked at the ceiling. “It’s fine. Don’t worry about it. We are cool.”
“I am fine with homosexuality. I am not a bigot.”
“Never thought you were. Ty told me you were not going to make a deal out of it. Said that was not the way you were.”
“Yeah, I’m lonely, but I can’t have sex with a guy.”
“It’s cool.” He laid on his back and we looked at the ceiling and talked until morning. When morning came, I had my arm around him and he had his cheek on my chest. I did not know what I was doing. I was confused but he made it all comfortable. He made it all okay. He made no advances toward me and we had all our clothes on. I was so confused. I was so torn. And I fought with my mind and my body, trying to make any sense of the situation.
When Precious and I left Sunday morning, I didn’t know how to say goodbye to him. I should have hugged him and took off, but I had no way to step away from him. I gave him a terrible hand shake, broke out into a feverish sweat and blush, and was out the door, relieved it was over.
A few weeks later we went back.
The drama department was putting on the Ancient Greek play, and Bravo and Ty were both in it. Bravo played the starring role. Ty played Agamemnon’s brother. If I remember correctly, Agamemnon’s wife and brother have conspired to murder him. He is warned by a soothsayer but she is cursed. Her name is Cassandra and the gods cursed her with the power to see the future but be powerless to stop it.
She warns Agamemnon that he is about to be murdered, but he shrugs it off and the play goes on.
I remember that the set of the castle had a balcony, and Ty stepped out onto the balcony, spread his arms, and made a speech. I am not sure where this was in the play. All I know is that he was wearing a blue robe and I was transfixed.
I had never seen anything that powerful. Smear Lord of Ire had this sort of presence, but I had not seen Smear in a long time. I stared up at Smear’s best friend in awe and was caught up in the strength of his voice and the stance. I was caught up in the power of Ty’s performance. Will never forget it.
Bravo’s Agamemnon was almost scary. See, Bravo is not tall, but he’s thick. It’s all muscle. I don’t know his heritage, but if he was a fantasy dwarf it wouldn’t surprise me. The force in his voice, the way he clenched his fists when he talked, he was every bit of a king. Every bit undeniable. At the time, I didn’t know the story of Agamemnon, had never seen portrayal of the character. Every time since, I hold it next to Bravo and it always pales. In the movie Troy, the legendary actor Brian Cox tries his best to capture the character Agamemnon. Before they even tried to make the movie, they should have talked to Bravo. If they had, Brian Cox would be believable. That day, Bravo became a king. In my eyes, he always will be.
Well, they had done it all as close to Greek style plays as possible. Everyone in the production had made a mask for themselves. All with no mouth, but the masks were intimidating and shocking. They had a chorus with staffs that marched around the stage and every now and then, while they chanted their lines, they pounded their staves on the ground.
It was a mesmerizing performance. I have never seen anything like it. And it made me forget for a few hours the disturbing and confusing thing I had been told.
Hitchhiker had a date that night.
I was jealous.
This chapter is from Reality of the Unreal Mind, Vol. 3: The Keep.