As soon as he walked into the Harris home that afternoon at four, Mr. Harris met him in the entryway.
“My office.” He said, and without another word walked off down the hall to his office.
The man’s bible still in his hands, Cameron silently followed along knowing he was in trouble, but not able to fathom the reason why. He reached the office just as the man was sitting down behind him desk. He set the bible on the corner of the desk, and then sat down in his usual chair. His heart in his throat as he could easily tell by Mr. Harris’s face that the man was beyond pissed.
Mr. Harris took his bible from the corner of the desk and held it firmly in his hands. “I left this today, as you know. I didn’t realize I’d left it until I was already at my next visit and already being late I decided to wait until after to go back for it. You can imagine my surprise, and overall sickness, at what I witnessed when I walked up to the door.”
Cameron’s heart lurched in his chest knowing from the man’s attitude exactly what he had seen, and he also wondered how he could have such incredibly shitty luck.
“So the whole ‘fix up the house’ was a ploy wasn’t it? You’ve been going over there every weekend to partake in that sinful, despicable behavior.”
Seeing no need to lie now and not really thinking well enough to know better, Cameron could only half nod.
“Despite the fact that you went to church every Sunday and were told what a sin it is. I cringe to think of you sitting in our sacred church every week after doing whatever terrible things it is you were doing there, just the very day before. Have you no conscience at all?”
Cameron remained silent figuring there was no right way to answer that question as far as Mr. Harris was concerned. He could feel himself breaking into a sweat. He had no idea what was going to happen to him, but the worst possible scenarios were going through his head.
“You’ve got two choices Cameron. Either straighten up your ways and never go over to that house again, see a counselor and repent your sins, or you’re going to need to move out.”
His mouth slightly opened and he slowly began to shake his head. He couldn’t do what Mr. Harris asked. He couldn’t imagine his life without Cole in it. Couldn’t say that what he’d been doing was wrong. Couldn’t repent and be sorry for something that made him the happiest he had ever been. Though he was very upset and hurt that his stay at the Harris’s was going to end so fast he couldn’t sit there and deny what he was. He would rather live in a cardboard box and be with Cole then live in a mansion on the ocean without him. “I’ll move out.” He said firmly his hurt coming out as anger.
Mr. Harris’s face filled with surprise, like he actually thought Cameron would bow down and apologize. “I honestly didn’t think you’d take that route Cameron. I honestly thought you were smarter then that. Don’t you realize this behavior is earning you a place in hell?”
Cameron shook his head his anger only growing. “Quite frankly sir, I don’t believe in hell. I don’t believe in heaven or your precious God either. The only reason I went to church is ‘cause it was a condition on living here. I sat there every week wondering what kind of people would believe the kind of bullshit that man preaches every week.” He sat back a little feeling scared, yet somewhat satisfied at the sudden redness of Mr. Harris’s face.
With out a word the man picked up the phone and dialed a number. They were both silent for a minute until someone answered the phone on the other end.
“This is Ken Harris, I have Cameron Jamison here he’s been staying here with us to keep him out of a foster home.” He paused for a moment while the other person talked, none of which Cameron could make out, then continued. “Yes that’s right. It’s not working out. Someone is going to need to come and pick him up today.”
Little else was said as Cameron sat there numb. He considered getting up and running away, back to Cole’s house, but he knew Mr. Harris would figure out exactly where he had gone and send them after him there. He really didn’t’ want to be taken away in front of Cole. Cole had enough to worry about without wondering what in hell was going to happen with him. He just prayed he didn’t have to go and live in some other town. He had no way of getting back to see Cole. He didn’t even know how to drive.
When Mr. Harris hung up the phone he looked back at Cameron. “They’ll be here in about twenty minutes. I’ll go upstairs and pack up your things. I want you to wait outside.”
Cameron nodded and stood up. “Never mind my things. You bought them all anyways. They aren’t really mine.” He knew it was stupid he knew he needed clothes. But apparently what little pride he had decided to show itself at that moment. He just couldn’t imagine accepting anything from the man. What little respect he had had gained for him the last few weeks had vanished in the last ten minutes.
He left the office and walked down the hall to the main door. His heart lurched again and he stopped walking for a moment seeing Kyle standing, arms across his chest, in the doorway to the living room. One look at his face told Cameron that he knew what his father had seen and he could tell he was plenty pissed about it. He hadn’t cared so much about what Mr. Harris thought, just about losing his place to stay. But Kyle’s obvious detest for him at that moment made his heart hurt, and his eyes burn with tears he refused to let fall.
He took a long deep breath and forced himself to keep walking. Without looking back at Kyle he made it to the door and shakily turned the knob; just barely managing to get it open. He quickly let himself outside where his tears did fall as he furiously tried to wipe them away hoping no one would come out after him, though he highly doubted anyone would.
He walked to the end of the driveway and sat down on the curb, he didn’t even want to be on the Harris property while he waited for whoever in hell it was that was going to show up for him. Luckily there wasn’t anyone out and about, he figured they must all be inside their happy little homes, enjoying their happy little families around their happy little dinner tables.
He forced his tears to stop by taking deep breaths and thinking of Cole. No matter where he ended up he would find a way to still see him. No matter what, that was one thing he could promise himself. One thing that could make him feel better despite the fact he’d lost his home and his best friend.
He had no idea how long he had sat there when a white Crown Victoria, with the Child Welfare Logo on the side, pulled up to the curb in front of him and a tall woman with blonde hair got out. “Cameron?” she asked as she rounded the car looking him over.
He nodded as he stood up and brushed off his ass out of habit.
“Is that all your things?” She asked pointing to the backpack he had on his shoulder with the few belongings he’d taken to Cole’s in it.
“Yes ma’am.” He surprised himself at his politeness as he usually didn’t call people ma’am.
She nodded and opened the passenger side door of her car for him. He walked around her and sat down in the seat. She closed the door and then rounded the car again and got in on the driver’s side. She put the car, which she had left running, in gear and pulled away from the curb.
“The offices aren’t actually open today hun. I’m going to take you to the home and get what paperwork I can filled out. You’ll have to spend the weekend there then we can find you a more permanent place come Monday.”
He nodded still a little numb to care what would be happening.
A few minutes later they pulled up in front of a very large white building that looked more like a mansion, with it’s white pillars running up the front of it and all. He had remembered seeing it before, but he had no idea that it was a home for kids with no place else to go. There was absolutely no sign depicting it as such, and he’d always just assumed it was a private home of some rich person.
He got out of the car at the same time she did and followed her up the concrete steps of the building and in the front door. They walked into a large foyer that had several chairs and benches around it, he assumed for visitors or something. They walked directly through the foyer to a doorway that led to what had to be the dining room, which was currently occupied by about 20 kids, by Cameron’s quick count.
“Have you had dinner? If you want you can eat first and then I can come get you for the paperwork.”
“I’m fine.” He muttered not wanting to go into that room; and not at all one bit hungry.
The lady nodded and continued on down the hall to another doorway, this lead into an office. “Have a seat right there hon.” She said pointing to a chair in front of the desk.
He sat down and watched as she went to a filing cabinet, pulled out some papers and then sat down behind the large desk in the room. She wrote a few things down on it then looked up and smiled at him.
“What happened with the Harris’s? How come it didn’t work out?”
After the terrible results he got after the Harris’s found out he was gay he was not about to admit to it. He knew Mr. Harris hadn’t said anything about it, and he didn’t plan on it either. Instead he came up with the first excuse that came into his head. “I just couldn’t follow all his rules.”
She nodded looking slightly annoyed and wrote that down.
“Is there anyone else you know, any relatives or family friends that would want to take you in?”
His mother flashed into his mind, but he didn’t want to burden her. She couldn’t take living with him once chances were she wouldn’t be able to a second time. “No.”
“Where are you’re real parents?”
“My father was in an accident, he can’t take care of me. My mom left a long time ago.” That wasn’t totally a lie, just evading the truth.
“How old are you?”
“You go to school right here in town?”
“Are you employed?”
“The Black Kettle.”
“Were you on the schedule this weekend? Do you have to call them and tell them you can’t come in?”
“No, I don’t work again ‘til Monday.”
He sat there for about ten more minutes answering her questions before she was finally done with the interrogation and stood back up. “Okay well I’ll show you where you’ll be sleeping and give you a quick tour. Chances are you won’t hear anything from us again until Monday morning. But be assured first thing Monday morning we’ll be looking for a place for you to go.”
He nodded as he stood up then followed her out of the room. As promised she gave him a quick tour of the downstairs, which included a large living room, complete with TV. A rec room with board games and ping-pong, even a pool table and the dining room.
After the quick tour of the downstairs they went upstairs into a hallway lined with doors. She showed him the bathroom then walked a few doors down and opened a door to a room with 4 bunk beds and eight sets of drawers in it. “Only three of the beds are taken in here. You can tell which ones cause they are already made. You’re sheets and blankets are at the foot of the bed. You’ll need to make it up yourself.”
“Weekends are pretty relaxed around here. Only basic rules apply. Simply respecting others and their space, no foul language, no fighting, clean up after yourself, and lights out at 10. On Monday you’ll have to be up by six thirty, but a bell goes off to wake you. Breakfast is at 7:30. They’ll go over the rest of the rules with you then. Tomorrow breakfast will be anywhere from 7 to 9.”
Soon as she left the room he shoved his backpack into one of the bureau drawers, and then laid down on one of the beds that was not made up. He couldn’t get the look that had been on Kyle’s face out of his head. He’d never seen any look say so much. All in the one look he saw disgust, and disbelief and loathing. Like his former best friend had hardly been able to look at him. It almost appeared like he wanted to kill him.
His heart ached that the friendship that had lasted over 13 years ended so suddenly. He couldn’t say he was very surprised. He’d been hopeful that Kyle wouldn’t care, but deep down he guessed he had known all along that his friend would turn his back on him soon as he found out. He supposed that was why he had kept it such a deep secret in the first place.
He hadn’t gotten much sleep at Cole’s the night before, something that happened every Friday night. But every time he tried to close his eyes he saw Mr. Harris’s angry face, his hateful words echoing through his head. He wished the man wasn’t such a controlling asshole, if that were the case he’d be snuggled up in Cole’s arms about now. He wouldn’t care so much about all that had happened that afternoon. He wouldn’t be all alone to face it by himself. He’d have Cole there to make him feel better like he always did.
As he lay there going over everything in his head, he somehow fell asleep. He didn’t wake up until the morning. Sunlight was beginning to filter into the room. He rubbed at his eyes and then slowly sat up not feeling anymore rested than he had when he’d been lying there the afternoon before. A few of the other beds were occupied now their inhabitants sleeping soundly, one of which was snoring loudly which Cameron figured may have been what woke him up.
Waking up there his heart ached as the events of the day before replayed in his head, making him certain it wasn’t all a dream. He figured the Harris’s were all still sleeping peacefully, without a care in the world about kicking him out on his ass. He didn’t figure it was any big feat for them, he was only someone they’d put up with in the first place. The fact he’d been tossed out so easily made him sure of that.
He wondered if Kyle was losing any sleep over it. Wondered what his former best friend had going through his head about him. He put his hand on his heart, the thought actually causing physical pain in his chest. Realizing he had to pee he got up and left the room, he didn’t remember from the day before where the lady said the bathroom was and it took him a minute or so to find it.
After relieving himself he wandered back out in the hall having no idea what time it was he set off in search for a clock. He was just about to head down the stairs not seeing one on the second floor when a voice called out behind him.
“Where do you think you’re going young man?”
He turned around to see a middle aged very tall woman looking at him sternly with her arms crossed across her chest.
“I didn’t know what time it was.” He said intimidated by merely the look of the woman. “I was looking for a clock.”
Not hiding the fact she was annoyed in any way, she looked down at her wristwatch. “5:45, you kids aren’t allowed down stairs before 6:30 on weekends.”
He nodded noting the sneer in her voice at the mention of ‘you kids’ he wondered how she could work in such a place when her distaste for the ‘kids’ was so obvious at least at that moment. “Sorry ma’am I didn’t know.” He muttered figuring she was not the type to be unruly around. Luckily his time at Mr. Harris’s had taught him some restraint against telling people like her to fuck off.
“When did you get in?” she asked cocking her head to one side her tone just a little bit nicer.
“Yesterday afternoon.” He answered taking a couple steps toward the room he’d slept in not really wanting to hang out and talk.
“Didn’t anyone go over the rules with you?”
“Yes ma’am. But I guess they musta missed that one.”
She nodded. “Understandable, we don’t have the official intake staff her on weekends. Only they can remember all of ‘em. You have can take a shower and get dressed, maybe by that time you can go down for breakfast.”
He nodded realizing he only had two sets of clothes, one he was still wearing, and the other dirty in his back pack, again wishing his 2 ounces of pride hadn’t interjected the day before when Mr. Harris had offered to let him have the stuff they’d bought him.
“Are we allowed to do laundry?” his heart sank as she shook her head.
“You put your dirty laundry in the basket by the door, each kid has their own basket, but I’d still recommend that you put your name on the tags so they don’t get mixed up. They don’t do laundry on weekends though.”
He nodded, wondering what the hell they did do on weekends. He thanked her for the information and then made a hasty retreat to his room. He opened his pack and decided the clothes in there were cleaner then the ones he had on. He took them into the bathroom where he remembered there already being towels. He was looking around for any kind of soap when he heard a knock on the bathroom door, which he found funny since the door didn’t even lock as it was a community bathroom.
Still clothed he walked over to the door and opened it to find the same lady standing out side the door with a plastic container in her hand.
“I don’t figure you got any hygiene supplies.” She handed the container over and Cameron took it seeing it had, shampoo, soap, a toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant in it. He thanked her for them then closed the door back up. Though he already had a toothbrush and deod
orant he didn’t feel like conversing with her long enough to let her know that.
He didn’t talk to any other adult that day. In fact other than answering a few yes or no questions or asking where something was he didn’t talk to anyone at all. The only thing he had to be thankful for that day was the fact he didn’t have to go to church. It had dawned on him about half way through the day that he wouldn’t have had to go to church anyways even if he’d been on the ‘outside’. He was supposed to have gone to his mother’s. He wondered if she thought he was pissed at him or something with him not showing up. He didn’t want her to think that, but didn’t know the rules about using the phone to be able to call her and make up some excuse so he really didn’t have much of a choice.
After breakfast Monday morning he was instructed to go to a Mrs. Riley’s office and was given good enough directions to be able to find it down the many halls pretty easily.
He walked through the open doorway figuring since it was open there was no need to knock. Behind the desk was a blonde woman that looked much nicer then the lady he’d talked to early yesterday morning, and he was certainly glad that Mrs. Riley was not that bitch.
The woman looked up at him. “Cameron?”
“Go ahead and have a seat. I was just going over the preliminary paperwork that was filled out Saturday afternoon. I just have a few more questions to ask so we can find the best suitable placement for you.”
He nodded again and sat down despite the fact he was already tired of answering their questions.
After several minutes her questions seemed to wrap up. “Now we have a test for you to take. It’s simply a personality test, called MAPI it’s used nationwide on adolescents to get a better idea of their thought processes and personality types; it’s something we use to help decide the best placement for you. It only takes about half an hour.” She stood up and motioned him up as well and they both left the room and went across the hall to an empty room that just had a few desks in it.
She gave him the papers she was carrying and a pencil. “Go ahead and work on that and I’ll be back in a little while to check your progress.”
Cameron nodded as he sat down realizing he was not going to get to school that day which really disappointed him. All he wanted to do was see Cole. He wanted to see him so badly he was willing to take a chance on running into Kyle to be able to do it.
He begrudgingly set to work on the test, not finding it much like a test at all. It was mostly opinions, his opinions on things. He figured this was one test that he couldn’t fail. He was only about half done when Mrs. Riley appeared back in the doorway.
She walked into the room and sat down at the desk beside him. “I thought you said you said you’re mother left along time ago?”
He looked up at her and slowly nodded, wondering why she was suddenly bringing that up again.
She tilted her head to one side and studied him closely. “I find that a little hard to believe since you’re mother, or at least a woman claiming to be your mother, is here right now, wanting you to go home with her.”
Cameron sighed inwardly, he didn’t figure he’d be able to keep his lack of home situation from his mother, but had at least hoped he’d be in a more permanent place before she found out.
“Is your mom around Cameron?”
Not seeing any way out of this but the truth, he slowly nodded.
“Why did you say she wasn’t around?”
“I didn’t say she wasn’t around now, I just said she left when I was young.”
He looked at her briefly as he heard her sigh and knowing why, as he’d come as close to lying as anyone could without officially lying.
“Why didn’t you mention her otherwise? Do you not want to live with her?”
He shrugged not thinking he could express to her what he felt about living with his mother. He thought it would be good to live with her, but was too afraid of becoming too much of a burden, and her leaving again; that he just didn’t dare take that risk.
“If you can’t give me a good reason hon I’m going to have to let her take you. She’s your biological mother; she has every right to, unless you can give me a valid reason that you shouldn’t.”
He shook his head unable to come up with anything. “I don’t have one ma’am.” He felt trapped; he knew this would end in disaster. Coming back and seeing him once a week, and talking on the phone a couple times a week was totally different than him moving in. This was not something he imagined she had bargained for.
“I’m going to have you talk to her before any decision is made here, then I’m going to want to talk to you both together, okay?”
“Okay,” was all he could say as once again his brain seemed to have deserted him. He watched her as she got up and left the room, but stayed where he was as she’d not indicated he should follow her. He was still looking at the doorway his test forgotten when his mother walked through it. The look on her face was sympathetic and he swore her eyes were moist with tears though he couldn’t understand why she’d be feeling like crying.
She slowly walked over to the desk Mrs. Parker had just vacated and sat down in it. Once so close to him he couldn’t bring himself to look her in the eye.
“What happened, Cameron? Why did Mr. Harris send you here?”
Not about to admit to another soul, especially his own mother that he was gay, he quickly got his brain working enough to come up with another excuse.
“I just couldn’t take all his rules. I lived for 12 years with no rules. It’s too hard to suddenly have to live by them.” He glanced up long enough to see her nodding and was surprised and relieved she seemed to be buying it.
“That’s not very surprising to me. The man’s a pompous ass. I don’t know how you lived with him for as long as you did. I sure couldn’t have done it.”
He nodded, biting his tongue as it sure didn’t seem she could live anywhere for very long.
“Why didn’t you call me?”
“He called these people, I didn’t have any say about it.”
“Then why did everyone seem so surprised I was even around? Why didn’t you tell them I was back? I know you have every right not to trust me, but wouldn’t staying with me be better than going to a foster home?”
He shrugged figuring he’d end up one sooner or later either way.
“Do you not want to live with me?”
He shook his head before he could think. “It’s not that.”
“What is it then?”
He merely shook his head again, not able to come out and tell her what he was feeling. It wasn’t like she was someone he could tell his worries or fears to. After all he had just really met her a couple weeks ago.
“I want you to come home with me Cameron. I’m not going to give you a choice. I know I have no right to come in and be the boss, but obviously you are very upset. I think once you get your bearings again you’ll agree this is the best move to take.”
Though he wanted to argue, he just didn’t have it in him. He still didn’t’ have any hope that this would work out. But at least he hadn’t gone begging to her. In fact she had just said herself that she was insisting on it. So at least when things went bad and she took off again, he would know it wasn’t because of some stupid situation he had instigated. The thought did little to make him feel better though, but at that moment sitting there with all that had happened, it was the only thought that gave him any comfort.