Charles and Philip Barnett have settled down to raise their children, but their domesticity is disrupted when Philip's nephew Steve is delivered to their doorstep early one morning after being beaten senseless by his homophobic father.
So the family grows, but of course, that's the easy part. A rabidly fundamentalist sheriff and a gay-bashing incident leave Steve and his new boyfriend in legal hot water and at the mercy of the deputies' harassment, and Charles must once again take up the fight for justice for his loved ones.
We hurried downstairs to turn on lights and open the gate. Philip and I stood anxiously in the foyer, watching through the cut glass panels on either side of the front door. Finally, we saw headlights turn off the street into the driveway, and we went outside to wait.
The car stopped in front of the house, and two boys got out. The driver appeared to be at least eighteen or so, and I guessed the passenger to be Steve’s age, which was a couple of years younger. The younger one came up to us and introduced himself as Jeff Smith and his older brother as Rob. Then he said, “Steve is in the backseat. He finally passed out a couple of hours ago.”
“Okay, guys,” I said. “Let’s get him upstairs and into bed.”
The four of us managed to get Steve up the stairs and into our old room. The two boys and I held him while Philip turned the covers back; then we laid him on the bed and stripped him down to his shorts. His torso was a mass of bruises, as was his face, and Philip said, “Son of a bitch. I could kill my brother-in-law for this.”
“We’ll deal with him later, babe,” I said. “Right now we need to take care of Steve. You stay here while I call a doctor.”
I left the three of them with Steve and hurried to our little office. Then I found Dr. Butcher’s home number and called him. Luckily, he hadn’t left home yet to make his morning hospital rounds, so he agreed to come at once.
I returned to the bedroom, where Philip and the two boys were hovering around the bed, and said, “The doctor’s on his way. Philip, while we’re waiting for him, go get the digital camera. We need to photograph those bruises while they’re still fairly fresh.”
I went down to wait for Dr. Butcher, who arrived about twenty minutes later, black bag in hand. When he and I entered the room upstairs, Philip was busily taking photos of Steve’s injuries and said, “I’m going to have my brother-in-law’s ass in jail for a very long time over this.”
Dr. Butcher directed the two of us to turn Steve over on his side so that he could examine his back, which was also a mass of bruises, and Philip took pictures of Steve’s back, as well. After a few minutes spent taking vital signs and listening with his stethoscope, the doctor pulled Steve’s shorts down to check the rest of him.
We all stared in shock at Steve’s groin. One of his testicles had swollen to the size of a small orange, and the other one was almost as bad. Philip said, “Damn, he’s going to pay for this.” He began snapping picture after picture while the examination continued. Finally, the doctor seemed satisfied and directed us to slip Steve’s shorts the rest of the way off and pull the covers back up over him.
He looked at Jeff and Rob and said, “You two brought him here?”
“Yes, Sir,” they said.
“When did this happen?”
“About ten o’clock last night, Louisiana time,” Jeff said. “Steve’s parents were out of town, and I was staying with him. His dad came back unexpectedly and caught us fooling around. He went into a rage, hitting and kicking Steve, and you don’t want to know the awful names he called Steve. I think he would have killed him if I hadn’t hit him over the head with a brass bookend hard enough to knock him out for a bit. While he was out cold, I dressed and got Steve’s clothes back on him and took him out to my car. I wanted to take him to the hospital, but he wouldn’t let me. He just kept saying over and over, ‘Take me to Atlanta, I’ll be safe with Uncle Philip and Uncle Charles’, so I called my brother Rob, and he printed out the directions on MapQuest. Then I drove Steve to my house, Rob got in the car, and we hauled ass for Atlanta.”
“How long has he been out of it?” Dr. Butcher said.
“He was moaning and sort of babbling for a couple of hours. We stopped at a truck stop and got him some Tylenol for the pain, and he finally passed out a couple of hours ago or maybe a little longer. I don’t know whether he passed out from the pain or what. We don’t fool around with drugs or alcohol or anything like that.”