This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
This story is copyright by Owen Hudson, all rights reserved. Distribution, including but not limited to: posting on internet sites, newsgroups, or message boards, or in book form (either as a whole or part of a compilation), or on CD, DVD or any other electronic media, is expressly prohibited without the author's written consent.
The more ambitious Karen became the more Steve began to see his control slipping. He became even more dominating and destructive. His drinking increased and the verbal abuse escalated into physical abuse. Karen couldn't see that the problem was with Steve not her. She was determined that Steve would be pleased with her advancements in her nursing career. She enrolled in the Bachelor of Nursing degree program at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah. She foolishly thought that if she could be the top student in her class he would surely be pleased with her achievement. The harder she tried the more abusive he became.
Karen's life revolved around her work and her education. This left little time for her family. More duties were left to Todd. He came home from school and did all the housework that his mother previously had done. He didn't mind, except that he had less time to spend with his grandmother.
Of course Steve resented Karen's ambition, and since she was rarely home his wrath turned to Todd. He saw his son as being weak and feminine since housework was women's work. He often called him ''fag'' and "pussy."
Todd saw no way out of the volatile situation at home. He always rushed home to get his chores done and then spent the remainder of the evening with his grandparents. Alice saw the change in Todd. She noticed the bruises that began to appear on him. When questioned about these, he explained them away as accidents. Alice suspected it was more than an accident and she began to watch Steve like a cat ready to pounce on a mouse.
"You're more man than he'll ever be," Alice told Todd upon hearing that Steve had called him a fag. "Having an ooh-tah-nah wa-ta-lee (big penis) didn't make him a man," she explained.
Steve seemed to know that Alice was watching him, because he became more careful with the way he treated Todd. He knew that Alice would have no qualms about putting a gun to his head and pulling the trigger. But what he feared most about her was that she would put some of her Indian medicine in his food or drink and kill him without anyone knowing it.
Todd began to acquire more and more strength from his grandmother. She wanted to teach him all that she knew about the Cherokee way. When he felt alone she always seemed to be there. When he needed guidance she provided him the map and let him chose his own path. She was practically his only friend.
When school started in the fall, Todd chose not to participate in any team sports. It wasn't because he believed he couldn't do it, but rather because it was expected of him by his father. Steve had been a star football player in high school and he wasn't going to allow his son to be a sissy and cop out. Todd chose not to participate because it was expected of him - it was his way of being rebellious.
In a small school district such as Colcord, it was expected of every able bodied boy to participate in team sports for the good of the school. Todd's decision further alienated him from his peers at school. His only friend became Nick Brown, another boy his age. Like Todd, Nick was the product of a white father and a Cherokee mother. Nick's father claimed a degree of Cherokee blood, but was for the most part white.
Nick's an extremely extroverted, driven, aggressively competitive person; imaginative, charming, and at times, reckless. He's assertive and tirelessly energetic - a result of the combination of avoiding introspection. His assertiveness came out away from home - he didn't dare stand up to his domineering mother. Thus he seemed to be running from something inside. Nick has a drive to maintain an intensely active lifestyle without really caring whether anyone is along for the ride or not. He is also materialistic, ready to surround himself with distractions, getting physically involved with the environment. He could have been a star athlete, but his parents' religion forbade competitive activities. His attitude toward this was, "Fuck it, I don't need it."
Both having been practically ostracized by the entire student body, Todd and Nick quickly became friends and drew upon each other for support. Todd soon realized that Nick wasn't the typical jock type. He was intelligent and had a wide range of interest. Todd genuinely enjoyed Nick's company. They talked about everything.
It brought Alice a great amount of pleasure to see Todd have a friend like Nick. Nick spent a sizeable amount of time with Todd and Alice. She taught them how to recognize u-wa-se (the wild mushroom) as well as how to recognize the plants that had medicinal properties. She was happy when the boys became interested in a-ne-jo-di (stickball). It is a very rough game played by the Cherokee. The game is the predecessor to the modern game of Lacrosse, the players using sticks which are handmade from hickory. The two boys were a unit, Todd was speed and Nick was power. Nick wasn't allowed to participate in team sports, but his parents viewed stickball as a Cherokee ritual and thus it was allowed.
Except for bordering on being religious zealots, Nick's parents were loving parents, especially compared to Todd's. While Steve's physical abuse had stopped, the verbal abuse continued, and at times was even harsher. Steve resented the flourishing friendship that had developed between Todd and Nick. Todd's refusal to play football only gave Steve more reason to call him a fag.
One particular day after a stickball game, the boys rushed to their homes to shower and go into Siloam Springs to see a movie with Nick's aunt. Todd had just finished dressing following his shower, when his father came out of his room in a drunken stupor. The verbal onslaught began just as Nick walked in to see if Todd was ready. When Steve saw Nick he immediately left the house, likely to the nearest bar. Steve was never brave enough to verbally or physically attack Todd or Karen in the presence of others. Furthermore, he wanted to give the impression of a loving family to outsiders.
"How long has that been going on?" Nick asked. "Does he hit you?"
"At times, but he doesn't hit like he used to." Todd admitted, while thinking he wouldn't have admitted this to anyone else but Nick.
Nick seeing that Todd was upset put his arms around him for comfort. Like a flood gate opening, this released all the built up emotions and Todd began to sob uncontrollably. Nick pulled Todd closer to him and said with sincerity, "If that son-of-a-bitch ever hurts you, I'll kill him."
Todd looked Nick in the eyes thinking 'he truly cares for me'. He didn't know why, but he had the urge to kiss Nick. He then kissed Nick tenderly on the lips.
Nick responded to the kiss and began kissing Todd passionately. His tongue found Todd's and he heard Todd gasp and pull closer. Their passion was going wild when they heard a car horn. "Damn," Nick exclaimed, "Marsha's here to take us to the movie. She'll wonder what we've been doing."
"Don't worry," Todd said, as he calmly threw on his robe. He stuck his head out the door yelling at Marsha, "I just got out of the shower, we'll be right there."
They both dressed quickly and ran to hop into Marsha's car. Both boys were in the back seat ready to go when Marsha joked, "Hey what am I, the chauffeur?"
"It sure looks that way, now turn around and drive," Nick teased back.
Nick remained quiet with a slight grin on his face. Todd wondered what he was thinking. He wanted to talk to someone about this, but whom? He couldn't talk to Nick since he likely was as confused as he. 'Marsha', he thought? No, not Marsha; he thoroughly liked her, but she was Nick's aunt. He wasn't sure how Nick would feel about that. Certainly not his parents, his father would likely beat the hell out of him and his mother was in her own world. Then he heard Marsha ask, "How's Alice, I haven't seen her in a long time?"
That was it he could talk to his Ah-lee-see. "Todd, did you hear me? I asked how your grandmother was," Marsha's question broke into his planning.
"She's fine, you should go by and see her sometime," Todd invited.
"I think I should," Marsha replied. Smiling as she thought about how much she liked the old lady.
Todd hardly watched the movie at all and couldn't have described a scene if asked. He was anxious to talk to his Ah-lee-see.
Todd decided to sleep at his grandparent's since his mother would likely be working and his father would still be drunk. Todd slept little that night and woke early to find his ah-le-see. He didn't think about breakfast, but he had to pee. After relieving himself, he quickly turned his thought to finding his grandmother. He hurriedly dressed and went to find her. He saw her heading toward the creek to gather wild onions that often emerged before the last winter snow. Todd loved his Ah-lee-see's wild onions cooked with eggs, but today he wanted her advice more.
"Wait for me Ah-lee-see," he called out to his grandmother. "I'll go with you."
"Did you eat breakfast," Alice asked?
"I'm not hungry, besides I want to save room for your onions and eggs," Todd grinned.
"You have breakfast first, then we can go," Alice insisted. To her breakfast was the start of the day. Todd knew he had no choice but to eat breakfast, but he was anxious to get to the wild onion patch and talk to his grandmother.
As they walked to the creek bank they chatted about the coming spring and about planting her garden. She promised she would teach him more about the Tsa-la-ge nuh wah tee (Cherokee medicine.)
Todd had thought talking to his Ah-lee-see would be easy, but when they became quiet while gathering the wild onions he couldn't think of a way to start. Finally, he started, "Ah-lee-see, I a-da-ga-u-e (love) Nick." He could think of no other way to tell her since there was no Cherokee word for homosexual.
"Nick is a good a-chu-ja (boy) for sure," Alice replied.
No, Ah-lee-see, I a-da-ga-u-e him, I love him," Todd said, adding the English word. He was searching for the right words to get his feelings across to Alice. "I a-da-ta-we-do-di (kissed) him like an a-ge-yu-tsa (girl), Todd explained. I want him to someday be my u-ya-hi (husband)." Todd then saw that she knew what he was talking about.
"Wah-yaw," Alice answered, "you have a lot of a-da-ga-u-e (love) to give. Your a-da-do-da (father) is in his drunken world, and your u-ni-tsi (mother) is in her own world. It is good that you have someone to love."
"Even another a-chu-ja (boy)," Todd questioned?
"Listen my ta-li-ni u-we-tsi (grandson), there will be men who will try to hurt you for what you are, and even men like your a-da-do-da (father.) If they do, I'll put u-yo-i nv-wa-ti (bad medicine) on them. You must live your life without fear and you must never be a-na-de-ho-s-di (ashamed) of what you are. You're what the u-ne-qua (Great Spirit) made you. Have you not noticed that there is no way to say he or she in Cherokee," she asked?
Todd was aware that in the Cherokee language there was no equivalent to those English pronouns. He wanted to know how it was in the past being a gay Cherokee, and asked his grandmother, "What did other's think about men like Nick and me in the past?"
"Before the yo-ne-ga (whites) the Tsa-la-gi (Cherokees) didn't care what a person was," Alice explained to him. "A person was what they were. The yo-ne-ga (whites) taught that for a man to lay with another man was wrong. Our people saw nothing wrong with this. The Christians taught that a man who lay with another man couldn't go to ga-lv'-la-ti (heaven)."
"Ah-lee-see, do you believe in the white man's heaven," Todd wanted to know
"They have their ga-lv'-la-ti (heaven), but if they can't love a person for what they are here, how can they love in ga-lv'-la-ti," Alice justified. "I'll just let my spirit stay here when I die."
Todd had never been happier and couldn't wait until he could talk to Nick. Would Nick feel the same as he? Did Nick love him the way he loved Nick? "What a wise woman my Ah-lee-see is."