Ask and tell
: Kevin, Justin Rate:
: B&S isn’t mine. Summary:
Kevin finds a letter and asks about it. Extra
: I started writing this prior the last round of debates about DADT, I just never finished it. I wanted to throw it away, when DADT was repealed. But upon reading it, I decided to finish it, because I felt it was a nice story about Justin's POV and I felt it deserved to be posted.
“Thanks, ..” Justin says, grateful with Kevin’s help. “I didn’t want to ask Kitty or Sarah or Mom, because I get way too much advice on what I should and shouldn’t do.”
“I’m glad I could help you with sorting out your paperwork.” Kevin replies with a shrug. Justin takes another pile of papers.
“What are these again?” he asks. Kevin just gives them a quick glance.
“Insurance. For your car, house, and …. A few others that we’ll have to go through…. Do you have some labels that I can put on these files, so we don’t have to check what’s in them every time?” Kevin asks. Justin points to a drawer right to Kevin.
“In there, there should be some labels that Rebecca took home with her from Ojai.” Kevin opens the drawer and does find the labels, right next to a letter that has his name on it.
“This is a letter addressed to me?” He asks, wondering how Justin got it.
“Dude, I didn’t raid your letterbox. As you can see it is my
handwriting… It was a letter that should be sent to you… You know, just in case…. In Iraq… Something would happen to me…” Justin seems uncomfortable talking about it and Kevin stares at the letter, somehow finding it hard to believe that Justin had prepared such a letter.
“It uh…” Justin stammers. “I figured since you were the lawyer, I’d have it sent to you. I would have left you my surfboard…” He grins. “Because I know how dedicated you are to surfing…” Now Kevin laughs as well. The nervous smile vanishes from Justin’s face and he’s suddenly very serious.
“It’s just… It was important to me to know that IF something would happen to me, certain things would be taken care of. And I never doubted you would do it for me, just as I requested…. Though, now that I’m no longer in the army, it really doesn’t matter anymore.”
“Does that really make such a difference?” Kevin asks.
“Yeah… You see, aside from a list of what I wanted Sarah, Kitty, Tommy, Mom and you to have and what Rebecca should have decided on for herself, there’s also another list in there. A list of people you would have needed to tell that I was no longer alive….”
When he sees the concerned look on Kevin’s face, Justin sits down at the kitchen-table and motions Kevin to do the same.
“I was back for about a month, when one of the other guys came up to me. Now, you have to understand that I often talked about my family. About mom, Sarah, Kitty…. You…
And I never made a secret of the fact that I had a gay brother and that he was married to another man, a man I called my brother-in-law, just like I did with Robert and Luc, though, of course, technically Luc is not yet my brother-in-law… My point is, I made no difference in how I saw Scotty compared to Robert, Joe, Luc or even Julia.
So, when Henry approached me, asking if I really didn’t care that you were gay, I told him ‘no’. He then asked me…” Justin gives Kevin a concerned look. “He asked me if he could tell me something in confidence…. That’s when he told me he was gay and … he asked me for a favor…
If anything was to happen to him, would I call his boyfriend and let him know. He didn’t want the man he loved, to be the last to know, that he was no longer alive or if he was seriously injured. He told me that his family didn’t approve of his relationship with his boyfriend and they would obviously not bother to contact him…
He couldn’t think of anyone else to tell. …. I turned down his request… I told him … I could not do that.... It’s not my job to make that specific call. We have superior officers for that…” He can see the angry frown on Kevin’s face and he raises his hands in self-defense.. “Let me finish my story first, before you get mad.
Yes, I turned him down, though I promised to keep his secret, but it somehow bothered me all day. It wasn’t until I was ready for sleep, and I was looking at Rebecca’s picture, that I put my finger on what really bugged me. If anything would happen to me, Rebecca would get a lot of support.
If it were dad, Joe, Luc, Robert, Julia, … if any on them who would be in the military and would get hurt, then there would be so much help for mom, Sarah, Kitty and Tommy. But if it were Scotty and anything would happen to Scotty…. You don’t exist. You don’t matter.
You would be just someone that we don’t know about, because we don’t ask about and Scotty wouldn’t be allowed to talk about. And that just felt so wrong. It felt wrong, because I love both my sisters and both my brothers, and I love my in-laws. I don’t see or feel any difference between Robert and Scotty.
Yet, I should accept the different ways they are treated, just because my other siblings are straight and one brother is gay? It’s too ridiculous for words. I didn’t sleep to well that night, I can tell you that, and the next day I went to Henry and told him that I had changed my mind and that I would make the call…
In the few months that I remained in the service, I had 5 telephone-numbers of people to call. Four gay guys and a lesbian woman. None of them could be open about what they were, but all of them had left partners behind in America that deserved to know the truth about their loved ones, … just in case….”
“Did you ever … have to make any of the calls?” Kevin asks reluctantly, his eyes are wet with the tears he holds back. Justin shakes his head, feeling slightly guilty as he can see that his words have struck a chord with Kevin.
“Not to report a death, but Henry lost part of his leg during an attack… And that was a hard call to make, but when Henry woke up at the hospital in America, his boyfriend was right there. The boyfriend had gone to the hospital, ready to fight to see Henry, but Henry’s family, from their side, had tried to look for the boyfriend, figuring Henry would need him.
There was no reason to fight it out and the look on Henry’s face must have been worth a thousand words, because Henry called me later on and told me that things were improving between him and his family and his boyfriend…. It’s still not good, but not as bad anymore as it used to be….” Justin smiles.
Kevin looks up at him as if he has never seen Justin before, then he hugs Justin tightly.
“I’m so proud of you.” He whispers, too emotional to trust the sound of his voice.
“Well, you and Scotty are important to me and I guess that trying to see it through the eyes of you guys, made me think it over.” Justin smiles shyly.
“I’m so grateful that you wanted to do this…. I cannot imagine what it feels like to not be the first to know that something happened to the man I love...” Kevin shakes his head. “…Yet, there were so many men and women who had to got through it every day. It was so unfair…”
“Yes, it was.” Justin nods.
For a moment, they sit quietly, but then Justin picks up the list.
“I guess I no longer need this.” He says with a sad smile. “Not now DADT has been repealed.”
“You never know. I’ll only believe it when I see it happen.” Kevin acknowledges. “Do you want me to keep the rest? Your ‘last will and testimony’?”
“Doesn’t seem so important now.” Justin shrugs.
“Yes, it is…. I want that surfboard and I don’t want to argue with Tommy over it or have Kitty or Sarah steel it away.” Kevin jokes, lightening the air and Justin starts to laugh.
“Idiot!” Justin mutters and he ruffles Kevin’s hair.