Narrator: Joshua Penningway
We're in deep shit. That's all I can tell you - we're never gonna get away with this. The pantry still smells a little funny from the vomit, there must be a condom lying around somewhere and Kieth's bed is probably sprinkled with strands of pubic hair. Perhaps, it's my fault for having allowed all of the night's events to pass without proper discipline on my part. And yes, despite the fact that that was Kieth's job, he's never been quite the chaperon.
The last few, Michelle, Juliet and Penny walked out in time for the last round of buses and Kieth, Greg and I were left to clean whatever was left. I saw the cross, so profoundly set upon the back wall of the living room. I wondered if the heavens above really did see the depravity unfolded in this house, only minutes ago.
I was afraid those unpleasantries, I so desperately wanted to forget, would soon be reinforced by my parents. My mother was most definitely not going to condone this carousing.
"Mom and Dad are nearly here, Josh!" Kieth called from upstairs.
"Yeah, so get Greg out of here!" I shouted back at him.
"Fat chance, kiddo." He chuckled and re-entered his room.
I anticipated the sound of my parents Ford driving up the lane. Tonight the groan of the car sounded contentious and acrid. I saw my parents walk up the stairs to our front door, my father's tie swinging loosely with the movement.
The key was in the hole, turning-- and stop. It was already unlocked - shit! My mom was going to walk in with a fit about that.
"Josh? Kieth?" My mom's voice was worried.
"Here Mom." I waved at the two of them, innocently.
"Remember to keep the door locked, dear. You never know what could happen, Josh. You ought to be more careful," My mom said.
"Sure thing, Mom."
"Where's Kieth?" Dad was always concerned about Kieth, after my brother had announced his gayness. Not in a homophobic way, like my mother - just pure fatherly concern.
"Upstairs," I turned to the stairs, "Kieth!" I heard the door shut, and soon he was down the stairs, and behind him was Greg. Dammit, can't he be away from Kieth for two seconds?!
"Hey Mom, Dad."
"Hi Mr and Mrs Penningway, I'm Greg." I scoffed silently at his outrightness. Kieth looked at me vexedly.
"Oh, hello... Greg. I think we've met before, haven't we?"
It was a rhetorical question, and I begged Greg not to answer it. The sound of his voice wasn't going to do any good. His mouth opened, but I saw Kieth tug at his shirt gently as a warning.
"No, I don't think we have," My dad said cheerfully. "Nice to meet you, Greg." They shook hands, my mom's eyes glued on their courteous gestures. It seemed Dad did not recognize Greg, as mom obviously did.
"Isn't CJ here?" My mother asked. She had quite a fondness towards Junior. Perhaps it was because his father's the Reverend. But I can tell you, it's not because she adores his personality or his impeccable manners - she wouldn't know anything about them, since she's never quite met him.
"Yeah, but he's asleep. Really tired, so I probably shouldn't wake him. He's in the basement room," I responded promptly, before they asked for him.
"Kieth dear, could I talk to you for just a moment?" My mom was more demanding that they speak - sorry, I mean argue - rather than "talk" as she so nicely put it.
She was about to make Kieth expiate for the presence of Greg. This was not going to pretty, but at least it turned the attention away from the clues of a disastrous party.
My mother didn't wait for a response, and quickly made her way to the kitchen. Kieth followed her reluctantly, signaling Greg to stay where he was. I followed, merely out of curiosity, then Dad gave Greg a nod and soon we were all in the kitchen.
"Who is this boy? Is he your... boy... friend?" You can guess that question was from my mom.
"Well, yeah, sort of. He is." Kieth said gallantly.
"Did I not make myself clear, when I said I do not want such people in my house?!" She quickly looked over at Greg, suddenly aware of his presence and relieved to see he was gone.
"Eleanor, he doesn't seem like such a bad guy. Let's not make such a big deal out of it. It's past midnight and we're all tired," Dad chipped in, in hopes of alleviating the intensifying mood.
"That's not the point, Sean!" My dad fell silent with those words, and she turned back to Kieth, "Don't you feel the least bit guilty? Is it not enough that you've caused me the burden of hearing those words you said to me, every night in my sleep? It's a nightmare!"
She paused to look at the painting of Jesus on the cross, next to the pantry. Her face was so pinched up, I doubted she could smell the regurgitated alcohol.
"He died for your sins! And this is how you thank him?" The Jesus dying for the sins thing, never failed to enter the conversation.
"For God's sake Mom--" Kieth began to contravene.
"Do not use that phrase in this house!" Of course.
"Listen, we weren't doing anything if that's what you're worried about, and how come you don't give one of these lectures to that gay colleague of yours? What's his name?..." Kieth turned to me.
"Um, Henry, I think?" Normally, I wouldn't intervene - I would be harshly accused of taking sides. But all I was doing was supplying a name.
"That's why, Kieth - he's my colleague and I've no right to tell him how to live. But you! You're my son! And God is frowning upon our family - and it's because of you! This is ridiculous."
I had to things I wanted to say about that. Number one, he was probably frowning at us because of her and her closed-mindedness, and number two, I agreed it was ridiculous.
Truly, I don't mean to be disrespectful towards my mother, but it's not the 60's - times are changing. I think even God can see that.
"Just let me be gay! Is it that hard?!" Kieth raised his voice.
"Shhh, Cameron's asleep. We should finish this discussion in the morning," Dad attempted to end the argument, again.
"I will not let you, and He won't either. It's not that it's hard, it's that it's wrong Kieth. And in life, you must always do what is right."
"You sound like the Reverend, Mom," Kieth commented.
"Well then, would you rather hear this from him? I'd be happy to call him up." No fucking way! Think fast, Joshua. Think fast!
"Uh, no. No, it wouldn't be right to bother him at the late hour. You should just call him in the morning," I emphasized the word 'right', and determined to save CJ's ass.
"Yes, hon. You should let the Reverend get his sleep." Good - support from Dad. On second thought, that doesn't do much.
"But this is an emergency. He'll understand and he's the only one who can talk some sense into this boy." She reached for the wall telephone and dialed. I was being overly-compliant again.
I could only hear muffles of the conversation between my mom and CJ's dad. Kieth sat on a counter stool, looking given up and my father rubbed his face in fatigue. I knew the Reverend would not change Kieth's whole sexual orientation - after all, it was his hormones and there's no controlling those.
I wasn't worried about that, I was worried what was to happen when Reverend Archvale asked for his son. The son that is supposed to be sound asleep, in my basement, and not getting laid by Crystal Jennings. That request was inevitable, and I failed, at a perfunctory attempt, of cajoling my mother to not call him. So, basically - all hell is about to break loose because of me. Just like I started the party, which was a calamity and now this.
"Reverend Archvale will be here in twenty minutes."