Chapter 2

Deciding a change in subject was needed, Jim sighed, tiredly rubbing his forehead. "Have you seen mom, today? The doctor told me she's still in a coma. My plane got in too late for me to get to the hospital on time. They wouldn't let me see her, the anal-retentive bastards. Not until visiting hours, tomorrow morning."

Pausing, Jim leaned his elbows on the table and shook his head in disbelief. "I still can't completely grasp what she went through. It blows my mind. I mean, you see stuff like this on the news, but you never think it could ever happen to someone you love. And certainly, not around here."

"I'd rather we didn't discuss your mother in public. If you don't mind." His father hissed angrily across the table.

Jim looked around, baffled. They were the only customers in the place. Deliberately, he raised his voice. "Why not? She's my mom. I've never had any reason to be ashamed of what she is. Or isn't."

"Shhhh—!" Jim's dad whispered. "Not so loud!"

"What? " Jim's voice went up a notch, in genuine anger, "You think someone may be listening to our conversation on some hidden microphone? No one's here, dad. Chill out, for Christ's sake!"

The waiter popped his head through the kitchen door, to see what was going on, but neither Jim nor his dad seemed to notice. The older man exchanged looks with his female counterpart at the bar, and shrugged. She shrugged also, giving him a perplexed look. The door swung shut again, as the waiter went back into the kitchen area.

"You got a girlfriend yet?" His father gave him a knowing look.

"Erm—not as such, dad. No."

"Busy playin' the field, are you?" His dad smirked at Jim, "Those cowgirls down in Texas, bet they can really straddle a bull..."

"Dad! Not here!"

"Oh. I see. Now it's your turn to tell me to shut up, is it?" His father said sarcastically. "Your mother we can talk about. Your sex life, we can't. Seems we have a problem, then. You're unwilling to talk about your sex life, and I don't want to discuss the ex. Now what do we do?"

"Mom's entirely your hang up, dad. Not mine. You've been divorced for over ten years. You seriously need to get over yourself."

"You watch your mouth! You may be an adult now, Jim. However, you're never too old for me to smack you one upside the head, if you start smart mouthing me."

"I'll say what I please. As you said, I'm a grown man. No offense dad, but I can see why mom divorced you. For the life of me, I have no idea why she didn't take you off of her insurance policy. And, kept you in her will, as well. She told me she had her reasons, but...sorry. I just can't see them."

"As you said, she had her reasons. Now put a lid on it, and mind your own damn business." He smiled coolly at Jim. "Look, son. Let's not fight over the past. Why don't you stop by my office tomorrow, after you visit your mother? I can show you some great opportunities coming up in the market. We can beef up your investment portfolio, while you're here."

"Shit! I don't believe this!" Jim said, clearly disappointed with his father. He stuck the table with his fist in anger. "I should have known. You'll never change."

"What are you talkin' about? What'd I do?" His dad said, clearly puzzled by his son's sudden outburst.

"Mom and her..." Jim groped for the right word, "...girlfriend, were attacked outside the Pink Petunia Pub two nights ago. And you're sitting there trying to sell me stocks?"

"What's wrong with that? It's not like we're standing over her hospital bed! I'm only trying to help you with your future. Think about it, Jim! Think what more money in the bank would mean to your business." His father said, in his most reasonable tone.

"You cold-hearted bastard. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if you waltzed into her partner's funeral tomorrow, and started handing out investment brochures." Jim bit out savagely.

"What do you take me for?" His father said, with a shocked look on his face, "I'd never do that!"

"Well, that's a relief. At least you still have the decency to show a little respect for the dea..."

Jim's dad laughed, cutting off his son's words. Somehow, it was an ugly sound, there in the quiet of the restaurant.

"I wouldn't be caught dead in some funeral parlor, surrounded by a mob of dykes." He shook his head, as if the very idea of such a thing was unthinkable. "What do you take me for?"

"I believe the proper term is 'lesbian', dad."

"Don't you dare say that word in front of me!" His dad whispered hoarsely, as if Jim had said some truly shocking swear word, out loud.

"Lesbian, lesbian, lesbian!" Jim hissed back childishly, unconsciously swirling the melting ice in his still-full soda glass, with his finger. "And right now, I'm taking you for a narrow-minded, uptight jerk."

"Say what you like, but what your mother's completely unnatural. It's against god and man. If you went to church more, you might understand that." As if for emphasis, his dad blew a violent puff of cigarette smoke at the ceiling.

Jim gave his father a look of sheer disgust. "Did someone shove an iron rod up your bottom when you were born?"

"What your mother is doing is a mortal sin! His father spat out, spraying droplets of spit on the tablecloth, and knocking over his cocktail glass.

"I see. What are you going to do, then? Burn them all as heretics? Christ! No wonder I became an atheist."

"I thought you were a Presbyterian." Jim's dad, said, looking confused. He leaned forward and whispered, "Are you on drugs, son?"

"No! I don't need recreational drugs to help me enjoy my life. I also don't need religion to prop up some stupid, hateful belief. I don't want to think that I'm better than someone else, just because I believe in some supernatural being, and am not a homosexual."

"God wants us to hate homosexuals." His dad said firmly. It may not say so 'exactly' in the bible, but I know that it's a terrible sin."

"This isn't the 12th century, dad. It's not civilized to hate people, just because they aren't the same as you. That's why this country passed civil rights laws." Jim said angrily.

Crushing out his half-smoked cigarette, his dad said, "Yeah. Civil rights. Hoo-ray. So now a bunch of lazy negros and butch lesbians can get first crack at a working man's job."

"Oh my god." Jim's jaw dropped and he leaned back in his chair. " I can't believe you just said that! You really are an asshole, you know that? You'll be burning books and goose stepping around the room saluting swastikas, next thing you know. I'm almost ashamed to be related to someone like you. Except, that I know you can't help it. You like being this way. Hate covers up your own insecurities."

"It's your mother you should be ashamed of, goddamnit!" Jim's dad yelled, his face apoplectic with rage. His knuckles grew white, as his fingers gripped the edge of the table. "Don't you understand? She's going to burn in Hell!"

Jim leaned forward, careful not to stick his elbows in his father's spilled drink. "Since you're so big on doing what God says, what about love and forgiveness? Where's all that turn the other cheek and casting the first stone, stuff?" Jim sighed, trying to calm himself. In a more reasonable tone, he said, "There is absolutely nowhere in the bible, where it actually states, in writing, that homosexuality as a mortal sin. People only make that up as a way to justify their hate. Adultery is listed in the Ten Commandments. Being gay, is not. However, I do believe that Jesus did have rather a lot to say, about the sins of people who put their own greed and selfishness, before the suffering and needs of others. And right now, mom is suffering. She needs us."

"She needs a fucking sex therapist." Jim's dad insisted.

Jim raised an eyebrow. "Hmmm—Now that's an interesting concept. Talk about on the job training..." he wisecracked.

Unfortunately, it seemed from his father's blank look, that the old man didn't get the joke. "Oh come on, dad! We're in the eighties, now. Lighten up! Go with the flow." Jim smiled, and batted his eyes coquettishly. Playfully, held out a limp wrist and winked at his dad. "Ya' know what I mean?"

"My god!" His father gasped, "You don't mean...? You're not..." he lowered his voice to a shocked whisper, "you're not one of them powder puffs who likes musical theater?

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