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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

A Soldier's Guide to Single Parenting - 5. The Importance of Discipline

I hung up the phone and stared into the frightened boy’s eyes.

It seemed preposterous. I had known Simon since he was a young boy and he had never acted like a homosexual. He wasn’t the most masculine of boys but he certainly wasn’t girly either. At first, I suspected it was another lie to cover for something more sinister but I couldn’t think of anything that could be any worse.

It wasn’t what I was expecting but it made sense. It explained why his father had acted the way he did and why he didn’t want me to know about it.

“Why?” It was a stupid question to ask but I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to be that way. It was completely alien to me; I had never met a homosexual before and Simon was just a boy. Why would he choose that lifestyle?

Unable to get an answer I turned to David. “You knew about this?” I said accusingly and he nodded.

“I’ve been trying to tell you for ages but you're never here.” His eyes were filled with tears which he was fighting hard to hold back. He knew how much I hated seeing boys cry. I pushed back my chair and walked over to the window. The storm had all but passed over and I couldn’t see any damage other than a few stray flower pots by the side of the house.

Probably for the first time in my adult life, I was lost for words. I had never had to deal with anything like this before and never thought I would have to. I turned my attention back to Simon, the cause of all the problems and glared at him from across the room.

“How long have you been like this?”

“As long as I can remember.”

It wasn’t what I wanted to hear and I turned away shaking my head. As long as he could remember was a long time. Does that mean he had always been that way? In our house with my kids. WITH DAVID!

“It doesn’t make sense. I can’t understand why? Have you no decency?”

“I didn’t choose to be this way. But I’m not ashamed of who I am either.” His voice was laced with emotion and he was becoming frustrated by my questioning.

I laughed. He had changed in my estimations. I had always regarded Simon as a good kid who was making the most of a bad situation. How could anyone not be ashamed of being homosexual?

“Well if you're not ashamed then why didn’t you tell me this earlier? Or a few years ago, since you’ve known for so long.” He certainly didn’t look like someone happy with who he was; sitting at the table with his head bowed, scared to even look at me. He made a pathetic sight this normally quite chirpy boy consumed with shame and humiliation.

I sat back down opposite him and studied his face. He still carried the scars from his previous encounter with his dad but otherwise Simon looked like a perfectly normal healthy teenage boy.

Short dark-brown neatly trimmed hair with blue-gray eyes against a tanned and slightly bruised face. He was a handsome boy but I could see no hint of a homosexual in him. It was disturbing. Had he not confessed, it would have been impossible to tell.

“Wait a minute, is this something to do with your religion? Has someone done something to you that you might want to tell the police about?”

“I don’t understand.”

“Has anyone touched you…inappropriately?” He stared at me and then looked to David for advice.

“No, it’s nothing like that,” said Simon. “They have very strict rules regarding homosexuality. They don’t believe in it.”

“Neither do I, Simon. I think it’s wrong too.” I turned to my son, demanding the right answer. “Don’t you, David?” But he didn’t reply.

“I should go!” said Simon. He stood up and turned toward the door but David grabbed his arm and stopped him.

“Wait! What are you doing? You can’t leave!”

“I’m not wanted here.”

“I won't let you leave.” David stood in front of him, blocking his route to the door. “Dad, tell him he can’t leave.”

I didn’t think he had any intention of stepping out the door but I wouldn’t have objected if he had. I no longer felt comfortable having him in the house. Even if he couldn’t help the way he was; Simon was still a deviant and an unknown quantity. He admitted to it and made it clear he didn’t want to change.

Considering his family’s strict religious beliefs and knowing what kind of reaction he would receive from such an announcement, it seemed unlikely he had chosen to tell them. Somehow they found out. Yet the obvious conclusion still eluded me. I was angry at David for keeping his friend’s secret from me but despite all the evidence suggesting they were more than good friends, the idea of my son being gay wasn’t even an option.

“How did your dad find out?”

“I don’t think you get it,” said David.

“No, I get it alright. I understand now why he didn’t want me talking to his father and why he threw him out. It was nothing to do with him wanting to leave the religion was it? Most parents would have done the same.”

David was wiping his face with his hands and arms but unable to stop the tears from spilling. It was a pathetic sight which angered me even more than his insolence. I stood up and paced the kitchen searching my pockets for my smokes. When I found them, I could barely keep my hand still enough to light one. What I needed was another drink.

I had no control over what Simon did with his seedy life but I didn’t want him poisoning my children. David was already far too close for comfort, sharing a room with him, his clothes. What was he thinking, allowing him that close?

I sat down again, tentatively watching them, moving my concentration from one to the other.

“Doesn’t it bother you?”

“I don’t understand?” David looked confused.

“Doesn’t it bother you that he’s like this?”

“You don’t get it do you?” said David. “It’s not just Simon….”

I turned to see Bobby standing in the doorway, he looked frightened and was crying. I glared at Suzanne but he wasn’t really her responsibility.

“Why is everyone shouting?”

“It’s okay, Bobby, we’re only talking.” I picked him up and carried him back to bed.

Suzanne followed me and agreed to sit with him until he went back to sleep. “Listen to David,” she said. “He needs to talk to you Dad. He’s scared.”

I would have been scared too if I found out my best friend was queer. But I did my best to reassure her before passing Jon in the hallway. He was still upset and now I knew why. Perhaps I had been a little harsh on him.

“You knew about Simon, didn’t you?”

He went back into his room and slammed the door without saying anything. At last I was able to understand why he didn’t like him and it made me angry. I had neglected Jon and put him in danger by allowing Simon into the house. He had to go!

I needed a drink first. The desk drawer was locked but I had a small bottle of something in my room for emergencies like this. A swig from the bottle would do. I didn’t have the time to fetch a glass.

They were talking quietly when I got back to the kitchen but at least David had stopped crying and was keeping his distance. They were sitting at opposite ends of the table but still not far enough away for my liking.

I sat between them and lit a cigarette. “So what are your plans?” It put Simon on the defensive.

“What do you mean?”

“For a start, where are you planning on living, now that your family wants nothing more to do with you?”

“You said he could stay here,” said David.

“Yes, I did. But that was before I found out about this.”

“You can’t just throw him out!”

“Why not? That’s what his parents did. It’s what most normal folks would do.” David looked distraught but Simon kept his head bowed and accepted his fate.

I was angry but it wasn’t necessarily directed at him. I was angry at the liberalised society teaching kids it was okay to be gay. Even promoting it and encouraging it on television, in movies, and pop songs.

I doubted Simon really knew what he wanted but someone had gotten to him and poisoned his mind. If I allowed him to stay, he would do exactly the same thing to David and then to Jon. Who knows, maybe even Bobby wasn’t safe. I would be failing in my duty as a father. It was a tough choice but he had to go.

“If Simon has to go then I’m going too.” David stood and I could feel my temper rising to the surface.

“SIT DOWN! Why can’t you understand what I’m saying?”

“It’s you who doesn’t get it. Simon and I….”

“WAIT!” Simon put his hand up to stop him. “It’s not David’s fault. He was just being a friend that’s all. He was protecting me. I’m sorry for getting him involved.”

“Simon, I don’t mind. He has to know,” said David.

“He does know. It’s not a secret anymore. It’s better if I go. trust me okay? I have somewhere else where I can stay.”

At last someone was talking sense. Simon was able to understand my reasoning and he wasn’t as desperate as David was trying to make us believe. He had somewhere else to go. A friend perhaps, probably a male friend. It confirmed my worst fears. Simon was only here to prey on David and my son was oblivious to it.

If I hadn’t been so observant, it might have been too late. I needed to stand firm and be strong. Unlike David, who was acting as if his world had just collapsed. I had more respect for Simon—a queer—than for my own son. At least Simon wasn’t bawling his eyes out.

“I’m sorry Simon. I have nothing against people like you but I can’t have it in my house. Not now that I know.”

“DAD! Stop talking like that, it’s not nice.”

“It’s the truth, David! I’m not being judgemental. I’m just stating the facts.”

“I should go.” As Simon stood up to leave, David tried to stop him.

“Wait, where are you going?”

“I’m causing problems for your family. It’s not fair. I told you it’ll be okay.” He reached out and touched David’s cheek as tears rolled down my boy’s face.

“NO! You can’t leave!”

“Let him go David. It’s the best thing.”

“NO! It’s not fair, Dad. You can’t make him leave.” David stood between his friend and the door and pointed at me. “I won’t let you leave because of him!”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing; it sounded as if David had completely lost his mind. I was trying to protect my family and now my son was acting as if it was all my fault.

“Get outta of the way, David. If he wants to leave, let him.”


It was more than I could take. More than I could bear to hear from my own son. He was yelling at me and questioning my judgement. After all the sacrifices I had made for him and all the hard work. He knew nothing about what I had gone through. I was beginning to wonder if Simon had gotten to him. Brainwashed him in some way or worse still, lured him into fooling around with him. Seduced him even. I couldn’t even think about such a possibility but David was a fool for allowing him so close and trusting him.

I grabbed him by the front of his shirt and pushed him toward the stairs.


My bellowing voice made him jump and sent the dog scampering for cover. I could feel my cheeks burning and my veins popping as my body tightened and my temper bubbled below the surface.

I hated this side of me but there was nothing I could do to stop it. Even the hurt on my boy’s face wasn’t enough to dampen my rage.

As David ran upstairs sobbing, Simon quietly walked past me toward the front door.

He looked innocent and even in the heat of battle I knew it wasn’t entirely his fault. But what else could I do? How else was I supposed to act? I wasn’t going to be swayed. Even by the pained expression on the face of a kid who I once treated as my own. He looked toward me briefly and held my stare for a couple of seconds before closing the door.

His expression was one of disappointment and disgust, betrayal even. I often wonder what must have been going through his mind at the time. Whatever it was, that face would haunt me for the rest of my life.

I locked the door and headed to the study to get myself a proper drink. My temper subsided after the third glass of bourbon but the anger was still there, simmering below the surface. The more I drank, the more twisted and bitter I became, and the more I hated the boy who was responsible.

He had tried to trick his way into my son’s bed. I was sure of it. Abusing my hospitality and lying to me, in an attempt to get close to David. I had welcomed him into my home and even allowed him to cook for us. He had been wearing David’s clothes, it made me feel sick. Simon, of all people. I would never have known. He had me completely fooled.

I was starting to feel quite drunk. But I wanted to lay down some rules. To stop it from happening again but also to make myself feel better and re-assert my authority within the family.

David looked shaken; his eyes were red and teary and he was as white as a ghost as he walked into the room without looking at me. Behind him was Suzanne, she looked angrily at me as she put a protective arm around her brother’s shoulder.

“What is it?” she said.

“Simon isn’t allowed in this house again. I’m sorry, David. Someone should have told me about him.”

Suzanne was riled. “So you could act like this? Get drunk and throw him out? You're no better than his father.” I was shocked; she had never talked to me like before. I was losing control of my own family.

“THIS IS MY HOUSE AND I MAKE THE RULES AROUND HERE. I don’t want to see him here again. Understand? UNDERSTAND?” I slammed the desk and they jumped in unison. Suzanne was fuming and she left without saying a word but David stopped in the doorway and turned defiantly toward me.

“I hate you!” He spat those words at me before slamming the door shut.

I threw my glass against the door in temper sending splinters flying around the room. But it wasn’t his last comment that angered me. I didn’t mind him hating me and the fact he told me so showed me he had balls. It was something I would have done when I was his age and paid dearly for, but I hadn’t seen it in him before. Maybe there was some of me in the kid, after all.

*     *     *

The dog woke me up at seven. I was on the couch, still dressed from the day before and he was licking my face. When I sat upright, I felt sick. I held my head in my hands trying to remember why I had slept downstairs. The empty bottle on the coffee table provided a clue and the rest gradually followed. I must have left the study for the couch during the night.

It was Sunday and I planned to stay awake only for the time it took me to climb the stairs and get undressed. But after crawling between the sheets I couldn’t get back to sleep. There was too much noise around the rest of house for my over-sensitive head. I could hear Bobby awake and running around and then Jon bickering with Suzanne.

It made me shudder to think I had put them all at risk. Simon hid that side of himself so well I wondered what else he had been hiding. It was possible I didn’t know him at all. I was convinced he must have been trying to entice David. There had to be a reason for all those sleepovers and the more I thought about it, the more obvious it became. Soon I was dashing for the bathroom to expel the contents of my fragile stomach.

The bottle of bourbon had left me with a monumental hangover. The problem was I didn’t drink enough. I knew the best way of avoiding a hangover was to stay drunk but it wasn’t always practical.

*     *     *

“I cleaned up your mess,” said a grim-faced Suzanne as I entered the kitchen looking for coffee. The clock said a quarter to one but it could have been anytime.

“What mess?”

“The broken glass in the study.”

“I’m sorry. I lost my temper.”

“I know… Everyone knows and David won't come out of his room.”

“You think that I was too harsh on him don’t you?”

“I don’t know what to think anymore, Dad. I’m only eighteen; I don’t know.” She was crying again. It seemed to be continuous but becoming over-emotional wasn’t going to help. It just complicated matters. I was alive because I never allowed my emotions to cloud my vision. She didn’t understand. How could she? She was a girl.

“You have to trust me Suzanne. I have to protect the family.”

“You really upset him last night.”

“He has to understand.”

“But you don’t know everything. There’s stuff he hasn’t told you.”

“It’s okay, I know what you're gonna say. I kinda figured it out.”

“You did?”

“Of course.”


“And what? There’s nothing I can do about it now.”

“Maybe you should tell David. Because he really scared at the moment.”

“That’s nonsense, it’s not his fault.”

“Are you serious?”

“He’s a good-looking guy. Boys like Simon are bound to find him attractive. That’s why he was always hanging around him, pretending to be his friend. It’s a trap. He was preying on David. Hoping to turn him into a queer. David’s not upset with me. He’s upset with Simon, because he betrayed him.”

Suzanne held her head in her hands.

“Dad, for a minute I actually believed in you. You sounded like the person who I’ve always wanted you to be. I can’t believe you can be so stupid.” She had tears streaming down her face and was trying to wipe them away with her sleeve when a scared looking Bobby came to stand next to me. He must have wondered what was happening to his once happy family.

“Don’t forget the game this afternoon, Dad.” Jon strolled in but stopped when he noticed our faces. “Am I interrupting something?”

“We’re having a little discussion at the moment, Jon.”

“Oh, I can go up to my room.”

“Thank you son. Can you take Bobby with you for a while?” I knew Jon wouldn’t want his little brother hanging around him but I definitely didn’t want him listening to our conversation. I think Jon knew what it was about.

“I don’t know why you sent them upstairs,” said Suzanne. “There’s nothing more that I can say to you. You don’t wanna know…and I can’t tell you.”

“Tell me what? What is it you can’t tell me?”

“It’s okay Suzanne. I’ll tell him.” David looked as if he had just woken up. His hair was a mess, he was barefoot, wearing the shorts he normally slept in, and a big baggy t-shirt. He had been crying and looked pale and gaunt as he circled the table and sat down opposite me, before signalling for his sister to take the seat next to him.

He took the time to compose himself and Suzanne held his hand on top of the table. I had never seen them so close, even when their mom died, they were usually at each other’s throats. I sensed a big moment and it lived up to the billing.

“Simon is my boyfriend. We’ve been together for almost a year.”

My expression didn’t change as I processed the information but I could feel my stomach churning and my mood sinking rapidly. It felt as if I was drowning, being dragged down to a cold and distant place I would never be able to escape from.

Those words were dark and irrevocable; they represented my worst fears. Something that happened in other families and to other people but not to us. It was impossible and I denied it. Dismissing it as a poor joke unworthy of a reaction.

“It’s something that I should have told you about ages ago but we never get time to talk.”

He was trying to be strong but it was a thin disguise. His confident tone was already slipping as his voice began to crack. I wanted to nip it in the bud and stop him before he said something I definitely didn’t want to hear.

“I don’t want to hear anymore, David.”

“Listen to him, Dad,” said Suzanne.

“I’ve known for a long time,” he said and now I could see more tears filling his eyes. He sniffed and composed himself looking determined not to cry. Then took a deep breath. I admired him for that, at last showing some of the strength I had tried to drum into him as a boy.

He raised his head to look me in the eye.

“I’m gay.”


“I don’t know why… It’s the way I was born.”

“FUCK YOU. It’s got nothing to do with the way you were born or your fucking genes or shit like that. Do you have any idea what this will do to us?”

“What do you mean, US?”


“Is that all you care about, how it’s going to affect you?” he started to cry.

I thought about what he said and it seemed to be a perfectly logical explanation. Why wouldn’t I care about my family? We were all going to be affected by this.

He wouldn’t look at me so I slammed my fist against the table making him jump.

“I don’t understand what you want from me,” said David.

“I want to know what’s going on.”

“I told you.”

“I want you to tell me why?”

“What do you mean why? Because I like him. I’m attracted to him. Isn’t that reason enough?”

“But he’s a boy!”

“Really? I hadn’t noticed. I knew that you wouldn’t understand.”

“I won’t allow you to disrupt the family and bring issues to our door that weren’t here before. I don’t want the others exposed to that seedy dirty lifestyle and I don’t want it in my house. I can’t understand why you would want to do stuff like that with another boy anyway. Have you no sense of morality?”

“It’s because I’m gay. WHY CAN’T YOU UNDERSTAND THAT?”

“Do you have any idea how this is going to affect your life and how much damage you're gonna do to all of us?”

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I didn’t do it on purpose to be awkward. And it’s not as if I haven’t given this any thought either. It’s been bothering me for years, for as long as I can remember. This didn’t start with Simon.”

“No, David. I don’t believe you. You were normal before. It’s him. I know it’s him. He’s got into your mind. I want you to forget about this. Pretend it didn’t happen and start again as a normal boy.”

“Brush it under the carpet,” he mumbled.

“Yes, David, that’s exactly what I intend to do. For your benefit as much as ours. In years to come you will probably thank me for doing it.”

“What makes you think that I’ll be around in years to come?” He looked at me and narrowed his eyes but I ignored his threat.

“You’re grounded.”

“How long for?”

“For as long as it takes.”

“As long as it takes for what?”

“As long as it takes you to forget about Simon and act like a normal teenager.”

“That will NEVER happen!”

“Fine,” I said. “Then you’ve just answered your own question.”

“You're crazy, you know that? You should’ve stayed in Vietnam.”

“If your mother had been here, it would have broken her heart to hear you talking this way.”

“Dad, you can’t say that. I wanted to tell you….”

“TELL ME WHAT! THAT YOU’RE A FUCKING FAG?” As those words left my lips I looked around to see Jon standing in the doorway. He was waiting for me to give him a ride to the game and looked scared as his brother ran past him in tears. I paused for the inevitable slamming of his bedroom door before lighting another cigarette.

“Hello, Jon. How’s your fucking day been?”

Thanks to Timothy and Carlos


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Chapter 6, Next Sunday

Copyright © 2018 Dodger; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

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On 5/13/2018 at 8:14 AM, Carlos Hazday said:

I've been doing a little research on PTSD for a story. I found it interesting police officers have similar issues with it to men and women in the military. The macho attitude within the cop and soldier communities for too long refused to acknowledge mental health issues.

A huge percentage of cops are ex-military. The whole system mirrors the military, rank and all. Firefighters are similar too. There’s a reason they were compared when the politicians were investigating the ending of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It’s not just a parallel, it’s more of a continuum.


They are only now beginning to consider using psychological testing to filter for additional issues like racism and other biases and the propensity for violence. Issues that cause repeated scandals and unnecessary deaths. Too many of the wrong sorts of personalities are drawn to the field as a career, people who want to impose their own brand of morality on society, people who want to force the community to follow their rules, people who believe they know better than everyone else what’s right and what’s wrong. People who see everything in black and white.


It’s very difficult to take someone who was trained to kill anyone they should negotiate to avoid violence. New generations are growing up playing extremely violent video games where they get points for shooting at anything that moves and ‘death’ takes just a reset button to fix. Mediators tend to enter other fields like psychology, negotiators tend to go into business. We aren’t doing a good enough job of teaching our kids that the world is filled with shades of gray – and I don’t mean that pseudo-pornographic rip-off of Anne Rice’s erotica  ;–).



How many times have soldiers killed their fellow troops because they were not straight? How many others were explained away or blamed on other causes? Not all cases of ‘deviance’ are accepted.

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7 hours ago, Israfil said:

Well, that went about exactly as expected.  Glad Suzanne is in David's corner and actually called out her dad.   


I've always wondered what people mean when they say "do you know what this will do to us?" when someone comes out to them.  I always assumed it meant reputation but Jeff didn't once say something like "what will people think?"  


Heh, I've been on the receiving end (not a extreme, of course) of the "you hid it so well" reaction - from some people you get this kind of suspicious vibe afterwards - like they're wondering what else you're hiding cause you weren't "gay" enough for them to notice.

I know it's ridiculous. Jeff is angry at Simon for looking and behaving like a normal teenage boy! He was obviously trying to infiltrate and corrupt his family. As you put it, he wasn't acting gay enough for him to notice. Thanks Israfil.

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10 hours ago, Ivor Slipper said:

I don't feel sad for him. He's too wrapped up in himself and his booze to feel sorry for.


(which means it is a good piece of writing!)

Thanks @Ivor Slipper Jeff is very self-centered and the alcohol, of course, will only add to his list of problems in the long term. Thanks so much for your support.

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10 hours ago, Thomas Haworth said:

Ouch!  I find it dismaying how hard our protagonist is working at being obtuse. He is clearly a man of his time. 


Given the time period, I expect things to get worse before they get better.  


This is, however, a very engaging story, and I look forward to more.

Thank you @Thomas Haworth Jeff is naturally gifted in that department. Thank you for your interest in the story. More next Sunday.

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6 hours ago, Dodger said:

There was also a much wider acceptance of gay people who enjoyed unprecedented freedom during the war years at a time when homosexuality still carried a prison sentence. There were more important things to worry about. Sadly, when the war ended the government began prosecuting people again and many homosexuals were imprisoned and even forced to undergo chemical castration. The story of Alan Turing, a hero who helped break the enigma code is very interesting.  

This happened in the US Military too. When we are at war, it’s more important to have bodies than it is to examine what those bodies are doing in bed. During WWII, there were many stories of LGBTs being valued members of the Armed Service. As soon as the war ended, they were given discharges, some Dishonorable, a few not. This pattern was repeated in the Gulf War.

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Ptsd or not I don't like this asshole! those type of people think about Themselves and not their childre n. I'm going to stop before I go into a full blown rant

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On 5/13/2018 at 3:03 PM, Timothy M. said:

You're doing a very good job of portraying Jeff in a way which makes us understand him. He's misguided and ignorant, but he does love his kids. He yelled at David, but he didn't hit him or throw him out. He may be a disgusting idiot, but he's not evil.


His mistakes over Simon and David are not caused by his alcoholism or his PTSD, so they're no excuse, but of course they make the situation worse. 


I despise Jeff, but I also feel a small sliver of pity for him. He's gonna lose the rest of his family, and if Simon kills himself (perhaps after going back and being abused mentally and physically), David and Suzanne will never forgive him.

Thanks Tim. I don't think Jeff's evil and he certainly doesn't want to hurt his kids but his actions are causing a lot of harm. He's narrow minded and desperately needs help and a voice of reason before he loses his family altogether. Simon, the boy with the most to lose, regrettably is the scapegoat.

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On 5/13/2018 at 4:45 PM, empresslovesreading said:

Dad's an asshole. That is all i can say without going on a tirade.

Tirades are allowed but I have to agree with your summing up.

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On 5/13/2018 at 6:47 PM, Sweetlion said:

This was a very emotional chapter... I am glad David has Suzanne, although she doesn't have (so far) a strong personality. But I am worried about Simon, were did he go? Will he be another homeless gay teen? Although Simon is grounded, he does have to go to word, maybe his uncle can help them. Jeff is an ignorant bigot, and those types of fathers that don't really love their kids. Yes he "loves" and take care of them because they are his, but part of it is based on a sense of morality and the "right thing" a man should do, but he doesn't really know them, or care about them as persons. I am not thinking about David, he constantly ignores Jon games, hardly interacts with the young Bobby, and doesn't truly value Suzanne. 

Thanks @Sweetlion Very well put. Despite having Jeff as a dad, Simon is the most vulnerable of the two boys. He told them he had somewhere else he could go but he may have been lying to stop David from worrying. He seemed to be more concerned about David than himself.  

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