By Wes Leigh featuring the contributions of Rob the Scribe


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Chapter Eighteen


Auntie opened her Bible and began reading out loud.

A woman with a bad reputation around town heard that Jesus was eating a meal at the Pharisee”s house, so she brought an alabaster jar filled with an expensive perfume and fell at Jesus” feet, weeping. She used her tears to wash his feet. She dried his feet with her hair, kissing each foot over and over, then rubbed on the costly perfume.

The Pharisee saw this and thought to himself, `If Jesus were a true prophet, he”d know what kind of a woman was touching his feet.”

Auntie looked around at the youth sitting before her. “Do you think Jesus knew what kind of woman she was? Do you think he knew all the gossip those folks were spinnin” about her?”

Sarah raised her hand. “He had to know, Auntie. Jesus knew everything, even what was in someone”s heart.”

Auntie nodded. “That”s right, Sarah. Of course, Jesus knew everything about the woman, and he knew what they was sayin” about her. He even knew what she was thinkin” as she washed his feet with her tears. And that makes me wonder … why was she crying?”

The youth offered several guesses. “She was sorry for her sins?” “She was hoping Jesus would forgive her?” “She somehow knew Jesus was going to die soon?”

Auntie waited for all the kids to offer their ideas, then said, “It could have been any of those things. Hard to say. But it sure is interestin” what happened next. Jesus told a story, a story about a two people who owed money. One man owed a lot. One man owed a little. Both men had their debts erased! And Jesus asked which man would be more grateful. Think you can guess who?” she asked, grinning at the teens.

They murmured that it had to be the one who owed a lot.

Auntie said, “Of course! The fellow who was forgiven the big debt was mighty grateful. That old Pharisee knew it too, and said so. Jesus said he was right, then turned to the woman and told her all her sins were forgiven. Maybe that”s why she was cryin” and carryin” on while she was washin” Jesus” feet. Maybe she was just thankful, deeply thankful.”

Auntie turned to Roderyk and nodded.

Roderyk took over the lesson. “We could stop right there and say, `Isn”t it wonderful how Jesus forgives people when they sin?” But maybe we should dig a little deeper. Maybe we should understand something about the difference between God and humans. We humans are eager to point at one another and talk about how horrible other humans are. Sometimes religious people like that Pharisee say, `If God was so wise, he”d know what kind of person those people are.”” Roderyk snorted. “Obviously God knows how we are, and even though he knows the mistakes we”ve made, he forgives us because he loves us.”

RJ sat in the floor, looking at Roderyk with awe. Roderyk”s aura was bright white now, almost glowing. As he spoke, RJ knew that God was speaking to all of them, speaking through Roderyk and Auntie, telling each of them something very, very important.

Roderyk began crying as he looked at the teens sitting before him. “I don”t know the mistakes you guys have made. I don”t want to know. I”ve made mistakes in my life, plenty of them.”

“So have I,” Auntie added.

Roderyk continued. “The mistakes aren”t important. Not to God. He wants you to know that if you”re focusing on the mistakes you”ve made, you”re spending too much time on the wrong thing. Instead, you need to know that God forgives you completely and unconditionally.”

Amber began weeping softly. Jasmine looked at her twin sister, tears brimming in her eyes and leaned over to wrap her sister up in her arms. The other kids watched, and soon all the girls were crying, hugging Amber. Auntie whispered to Roderyk, “It”s between us girls. Something we talked about last night for an hour or two.” Then Auntie stood up and joined the girls who were all hugging each other and crying.

Even the boys became teary eyed, watching the girls huddled in each other”s arms.

RJ suddenly stood up and rushed out of the room. Roderyk called after him, but RJ kept going.

Auntie nodded to Roderyk. “Go ahead. izmit escort bayan See what”s wrong. I”ll watch the others.”

Roderyk hurried out of the room, searching for RJ.

͠ ͠ ͠

RJ hadn”t gone far. He was standing under a pine tree, biting a thumbnail, calling up one bitter memory after another.

Stephen McDermott was shouting in his face, “Someday you”ll be alone. You”ll be somewhere no one can watch over you. And then your faggot ass is mine.”

Next it was the room in the Sheriff”s office, with his mother.

“But, sweetie, why would you lie about something like that?” his mom was asking.

RJ was shaking as he replied, “Lie? Mom, I didn”t lie. I AM gay!”

Then it was Mickey, standing next to him, face red with anger as they argued.

RJ was shouting, “WHAT? You and Ms. Masters are the ones who told the cops we were having sex? How could you betray me like that, Mickey? You”re supposed to be my friend!”

And Mickey was replying, “I am, RJ. I”m your best friend. We did it to help you. To get you away from him.”

RJ shook his head violently from side to side. What was wrong with him? With the way he felt? With�he gulped and took a deep breath�with being gay and loving Roderyk? Why did everyone insist that it was horribly wrong? Was he doomed for hell?

RJ sank to his knees and sobbed.

He heard footsteps approaching at a run, then slowing to a walk, and finally stopping next to him. RJ glanced over and saw an adult”s feet. Roderyk”s feet. RJ recognized the goofy red sneakers Roderyk had been wearing that night.

But even the sight of the bright red shoes couldn”t break the gloom and the depression settling over him. Nothing could. Not even hearing that Jesus forgave him completely. What good did it do to have Jesus forgive you if everyone else hated you?

Through his falling tears, RJ saw Roderyk kneeling in the grass next to him, waiting patiently for RJ to finish crying.

RJ sniffed and wiped his nose on his sleeve, then turned to Roderyk and asked, “What”s wrong with me? I try not to let what others think about me get to me, but I can”t help it. It”s really tearing me up inside. I don”t think I can live with this anymore.”

“I know what that”s like, RJ.”

“How can you? I”m not trying to be rude. I just don”t see how you can know how this feels to me.”

Roderyk pulled out his cell phone and tapped a few keys, explaining as he did, “Several years ago, I wrote a story. I saved it to my cloud storage, and I have it here if you want to read it. I think it might hold some answers for you.”

RJ shrugged and took the cell phone and began reading.

Night had fallen. The village fell silent. The streets and alleys looked deserted. Only the sea, to which the village flows, moved in an eternal dance.

A boy sat on the pier. A warm summer breeze gently caressed his skin. How many times had he sat here? He couldn”t count anymore. Whenever he was sad, he came here. With his eyes on the sea, he could let his thoughts wander in this place. He always drew comfort from the play of the tides.

A tear rolled down his cheek. He cursed himself inside. He hadn”t wanted to cry. Once again, he”d shown weakness. After all, that was the reason he was here. Big boys don”t cry. So once again he had proved that he wasn”t a real man. In the end, the others were right after all.

He was a wimp and a crybaby. He was a fag. Not a man. Not even a human. They had screamed it in his face. He wasn”t worth anything. He was sick and abnormal. No, he didn”t deserve to live among other people. Not even his own parents wanted anything to do with him anymore.

How should it go from here on? He did not know. Not even two days ago everything had felt so right. He had been in love, but not with a girl. He hadn”t cared. For the first time in the fifteen years of his life he had felt this feeling and simply enjoyed it. Was it really that bad? Should he have ignored his feelings? Just because others expected it of him?

His luck lasted only one evening. A quick meeting, a brief kiss. They had seen it. They attacked him the next morning, tore him to pieces. He couldn”t take it, collapsing in front of them. No one in the pack had wanted to see the pain in his eyes. But on the contrary, his tears had revealed his weakness. They had pounced on him, the weakened prey, like ravenous beasts.

He gave himself up to the same weakness at this moment. And he hated himself for it. But he couldn”t fight it any longer. The pain was overwhelming. He wanted out.

The boy sat there for a long time and let the tears flow freely. All the desperation, all the pain broke free. Finally, he looked up. Something had mixed in with the sound of the izmit escort waves and his own soft whimpering. Something beautiful.

At first, he couldn”t make it out. Almost as if he could feel it but not consciously perceive it, so that he had to struggle to find it in all the other noises around him. It got louder and louder until it reached his ears clearly. It was a song, delicate and haunting. It seemed to him that it was a voice that didn”t belong in his world.

And yet he knew the voice. Two days ago, he had heard it for the first time. It was the song that had enchanted him on the spot, that had made him forget everything else. All prejudices had been wiped away, leaving nothing but love. The song belonged to the boy he had kissed.

He listened intently to the song. He had never heard anything so beautiful. Until this moment. This voice, this boy, sang only for him, he realized that.

Longing unsatisfied.
Pain from feeling it.
Suffering from having it.

Throw away the doubts.
Do not ask.
Live the love.

Let it go
In eternal depth.
Welcome it.

Come to me;
Down to eternity.
Come into the sea.

He could no longer avoid singing. It penetrated his heart. Into his soul. He would never be able to live his life here on the land. The last few days had proven it. But the promises of the song gave hope. Hope for a life outside of it all.

It was easy. All he had to do was surrender his body to the water. Simply dive under and keep sliding down.

The boy dropped. One last time.

RJ looked up at Roderyk, shocked by what he”d just read. “What does this mean?” he asked.

Roderyk took the phone and shut it off, sliding it into his pocket. “I wrote that when I was tired of living. I didn”t think I could go on any longer, and I tried to drown myself in alcohol. And other things. It didn”t work.” Roderyk stared grimly at RJ, and said, “I know exactly how you feel, RJ, because I felt the very same way. I felt this world wasn”t for me, that it hated me, and so I should leave it, but obviously I didn”t leave, because that isn”t the answer, RJ.”

“Then what is the answer, Roderyk? What should I do?”

Roderyk smiled sadly. “I spent years fighting against the pain. Trying to make it go away. Finally, I learned to accept the pain, to accept the longing in my heart for what I could not have.”

RJ stared at Roderyk, finally beginning to understand. “You loved another boy?”

Roderyk felt a momentary flash of panic. No one here knew about his life back in Germany. But this seemed to be his moment of truth. He nodded his head slowly, and it seemed that a heavy chain fell off his heart.

RJ reached out and took Roderyk”s hand in his own and asked, “Are you gay?”

Roderyk nodded again. More chains fell.

RJ smiled and said, “So am I.”

And all the chains binding them broke and dropped to the ground, setting them free.

͠ ͠ ͠

“The Bible says being gay is unforgiveable,” RJ said as the two of them walked along a trail together. “Is it?”

Roderyk shook his head. “Actually, it doesn”t say that. If anything, the Bible says being gay is no different than a man cheating on his wife or a person losing his temper or anything else.”

“But being gay is wrong, isn”t it?”

Roderyk shrugged. “I”ve spent my entire life beating myself over the head with that very question. I can”t explain why I feel attracted to other men. I just am. I suppose it”s just like a woman who feels compelled to gossip about others. I”m fairly certain that”s not something God approves of, but it still happens. Why don”t gossiping women feel bad about what they do? Why don”t feel like killing themselves over it?”

RJ snorted. “Probably `cause no one gets up in their faces about it and calls them names and treats them like shit.” RJ gulped. “Sorry about saying that word.”

Roderyk chuckled. “I”ve heard the word before, RJ. You and I shovel it every morning at the farm.”

RJ laughed. “Yeah. I guess we do. But why are people that way, Roderyk. Why is being gay so very horrible compared to the things other people are?”

“I don”t know, RJ. I really can”t answer that question. I can”t even tell you that being gay is wrong. If two men love each other and care for each other, just like a husband and wife do, is it really a sin? I”m not wise enough to answer that question, but I do know that what I said earlier tonight is very important: People worry too much about something God has already forgiven.”

“Maybe we should just stop gossiping about each other and just love each other,” RJ suggested.

“I think that is a very wise suggestion, my young friend,” Roderyk agreed.

They walked izmit kendi evi olan escort along in silence for a minute, each lost in his own thoughts.

As they walked, RJ moved closer to Roderyk with each step, until finally they were walking side by side, their arms casually brushing against each other. Slowly RJ slid his hand closer to Roderyk”s until finally their hands were touching. Then RJ glanced down and carefully took Roderyk”s hand in his own. Roderyk smiled but said nothing, gripping RJ”s hand tightly, enjoying the feeling of the hands clasped together.

͠ ͠ ͠

That night, in their cabin, the boys sat around in their underwear playing a game of Uno. They had pulled several beds together in the middle of the cabin and were sitting in a circle, playing their cards down and laughing when someone had to draw four more. Like most games of Uno, it seemed to last forever.

Roderyk reclined on his bed next to the door, reading on his cell phone, loving the sound of boyish laughter. There was nothing more joyous and pure.

When ten o”clock rolled around, Roderyk called an end to the game and told the boys to put the beds back and call it a night. Several, including little Anthony, headed for the building next door to pee and wash their hands and faces.

RJ climbed into his cot next to Roderyk and turned on his side, facing the man he was beginning to love.

Roderyk noticed the shy smile on RJ”s face. “Are you feeling better now?”

RJ nodded. “Thank you for talking with me.”

“You”re welcome, RJ. Anything for my roomie!”

RJ smiled big and said, “You”re a pretty good roomie, even if you do take really long baths.” Then RJ blushed as he realized what that could be implying. “That is, it”s okay to take a long time bathing if you need to …” He blushed even more. “I mean I”m not saying you”re in there doing anything I wouldn”t be doing …” RJ couldn”t believe the words he heard coming out of his mouth. He pulled his blanket over his head and covered his face.

Roderyk chuckled and said, “Yes, you”re right, roomie. I do take very long baths.”

RJ peeked out from under the blanket to see if Roderyk was mad at him. The man was smiling, so RJ decided it must be okay.

The other boys came running back into the cabin, pushing and jostling each other.

“Into bed everyone. Keep the noise down. I don”t imagine you”ll be falling asleep right away, but the lights are going off and I want you to whisper as you talk so that anyone who feels tired can fall asleep.” When they were all on their bunks, Roderyk reached above his head to flip the light switch.

RJ stared in awe at Roderyk”s naked upper body. He”d seen it all before, when they were swimming, but once again he couldn”t believe how Roderyk”s muscles rippled on his chest when he moved. And there was a dark tuft of hair in his armpit, which made RJ sigh a little. He didn”t have much hair at all, not in his armpit, and he wished he did. He wished he was like Roderyk in every way. Tall. Strong. Impressive.

With the lights out, the only illumination inside the cabin was from the rising moon, which cast a faint blue glow inside the room.

RJ could see Roderyk”s face. He was so handsome. His eyes, though shadowed now, were always so beautiful. His smile was friendly. And he truly understood RJ, giving RJ something he hadn”t had in a very long time. Hope.

“Roderyk …” RJ whispered.

“What is it, RJ?” Roderyk whispered back.

“I love …” RJ couldn”t force the words out.

Roderyk waited.

RJ changed his mind and said, “I love being here, at camp, with you. And with the other guys.”

“That”s good, RJ.”

“And I love … I love Auntie and her stories. She”s really nice. You”re really nice, too.”

Roderyk laughed softly. “Thank you, RJ. You”re a great kid. All of you are.”

RJ summoned up all of his courage and said, “I love�” His voice fell to the barest of whispers. “�you.”

Roderyk whispered back. “What was that, RJ? I couldn”t hear.”

RJ blurted out. “Nothing. It was nothing.” And he rolled over and pulled his blanket up to his chin.

Roderyk, his whisper so soft that even he couldn”t hear it, replied, “I love you, too, RJ.”

͠ ͠ ͠

The remainder of the week flew by.

Good food at every meal.

Amazingly fun games during the mornings, uplifting worship services every afternoon, and inspirational studies with Roderyk and Auntie at night.

And for RJ, wonderful walks along the camp trails during his free time. Wonderful because Roderyk walked with him, talking, sharing, bumping against each other, laughing and teasing, falling in love. Wherever they went, Roderyk”s arm was draped across RJ”s neck. And when no one was watching, RJ”s arm was around Roderyk”s back, holding him by the waist, looking up adoringly, as it should be when boyfriends walked together and one was short and one was tall.

The end of UNCAGED, Chapter Eighteen

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