Thursday, October 30, 7:00 PM
A full moon’s light filled Adam’s room. He hadn’t turned out the lights yet, despite the fact that his nap ended an hour ago. Adam always enjoyed contemplation in tranquil darkness; less stimuli cleared his thinking. He was seething…and plotting.
How much cruelty can one person dish out? Is there a fucking limit? Probably not, for any of them. That’s why they need to be stopped. It’s going to be sweet when they find out what it feels like to be victimized. Sweet like a nectarine. Succulent. Adam thought to himself.
He replayed the day’s events over and over in his head. It was his senior year. In just seven months, he’d be free of it all. His parents’ attempts to force their Fundamentalist religion on Adam would be over. They’d made him attend Spring Valor Academy for eight years of his life. Eight miserable years. The incident that morning, the day before Halloween, was just the most recent case of homophobic abuse that he’d endured during eight-year sentence at the academy.
The label faggot was hardwired into Adam’s brain years before the asshole, Tommy Peterson, exposed his lover. Adam had been called it since he was in middle school. He tried to mask his true identity, but it was a moot point. Despite the fact that Adam never admitted that he way gay, the big fish in SVA’s very small pond just wanted an excuse to torture him. Years of punches, insults and constant reminders that he was going to burn in hell made Adam numb to the abuse. But today was different. They went after Warren. Adam had finally found someone. Finally, there was a person in his life that loved him for who he really was, and the bastards couldn’t help themselves. But it didn’t work. Their love wasn’t so easily shattered.
Adam met Warren on a gay dating app and the two had been in love for a year. Spring Valor was a tiny town forty-five minutes south of Dallas. Warren lived in the suburbs just outside the city, so the two lovers’ paths never crossed. Adam’s parents never knew that Warren even existed, but Warren’s family welcomed Adam with open arms. They treated him like a son. It was nice to have a family that loved him unconditionally.
A knock at the door brought Adam back to reality. He ignored it. Another one followed, but he remained silent.
“Adam. We need to talk.”
“It’s not locked.”
His father entered the room. Evidently disturbed by his son’s meditation in darkness, he shook his head and turned the light switch on, then took a seat at Adam’s desk. It had been a late night at the mechanic shop. Adam’s room began to reek of oil and gas.
Maybe if I smelled like that, he’d think I was a real man.
“Your mother told me what happened today.”
Adam shrugged. His father didn’t appreciate the apathy.
“Are you trying to kill us, Adam? Pastor Peterson said that several kids caught you texting with some gay pervert. We didn’t raise you to be some godless cocksucker. What the hell is this all about?” Adam loathed the reverence that his father afforded Pastor Peterson. It was his son, Tommy Peterson, that outed Warren to the world. Spring Valor Trinity Church operated the academy, so Pastor Peterson was also Principal Peterson. Personally, Adam thought he did a shitty job at both.
“They stole my phone and looked at it. They didn’t catch me doing anything. I’m not trying to do anything to anyone. The truth’s out, so I might as well own up to it. I’m gay.” Adam left out a few very important details about the morning’s fiasco. Better that his parents not know who Warren really was.
His father said nothing, just stared right at him, with his arms crossed and his nostrils flared. Adam reciprocated with a disingenuous frown.
“Yes, I know you’re disappointed. Big surprise. I’ve always been this way. You’ve never understood that. You never loved me for who I was. You just tried to change me so that I would fit your definition of what a good son is supposed to be. That’s all you’ve ever done. You’ve always hated every part of me.”
His father uncrossed his arms and stood up.
“Don’t act like some victim! It’s the parents’ job to steer their child away from sin and mold them into a God-fearing disciple. We did the best we could. God knows we spent on you. You know where all of our money went? You! I’m going to be working until I’m ninety! You should be grateful for our sacrifice. There’s a lot of parents who would never do that for their kids.”
Adam let out a laugh.
“I love how, for as long as I can remember, you and mom have complained that money’s been tight. Yet, somehow you could afford for me to go to SVA, where I frequently get beaten up and spit on just because of how I talk and act, which you knew about, but still wanted me to go there. And, let’s not forget that you could afford to send me to gay conversion therapy. I took drugs that made me sick-to-my-stomach, and then was forced to watch videos of men getting raped before I vomited into buckets while trying to convince my body that what it felt was wrong. You made me do all of that because you never loved me. You tried to make it so that you could love me but you failed. I am who I am.”
“I will not let this happen. We did not raise you to be a faggot, Adam. Don’t you understand that you’re gonna burn in hell for becoming a sodomite?!”
“I’ve heard that before, I think. I’m not becoming anything. I’m just being.” Adam’s sarcasm eluded his father.
His father paced around thinking. Adam could see that the man was flexing his limited brain power to the max, in an effort to form a contingency plan. Adam saw a look of failure in his father’s eyes. He’d tried so hard to transform his son, but it was futile in the end. Adam could relate to that emotion.
“I need to pray about this. And talk to Pastor Peterson. You need to pray. You’re going to the Hell House tomorrow. Maybe that will knock some sense into you. Think about what you’ve done. Where’s your phone?”
“Because I’m not going to allow you to feed this addiction anymore. Your phone is gone. This is only the beginning, Adam.”
Adam handed it over. It didn’t really matter. Their plans were already in motion.
“You’re going to the Hell House tomorrow. Pastor Peterson recommended it.”
“Alright. I’m sure I’ll come out of there straight as an arrow, Dad. Maybe a nice Christian girl will give me a blowjob. Oral is moral, right Dad?”
The father raised his hand to strike his son, but restrained himself at the last minute.
“You’ve turned into an animal. Pray and reflect.” His father slammed the door.
Adam got up and went over to his computer. The piece of shit was a dinosaur, but at least he could IM Warren and let him know that his phone had been confiscated. Adam felt guilty. If he’d never been born, Warren’s life might be easier.
Warren was a freshman at SMU. When Tommy stole Adam’s phone that morning, he went through all of Adam’s social media. He discovered Warren’s last name, where his dorm was, who his LinkedIn connections were and, worst of all, the name and number of the law firm that had offered Warren an internship over the summer. After giving Adam back his phone, Tommy reached out to the law firm and informed them of Warren’s sexuality, along with some other embellished details regarding closeted student’s ‘secret’ life. The firm withdrew its offer within a few hours. There were no Texas LGBTQ protections to make them hesitate.
But it was alright. Adam and Warren had concocted a way to balance the scales of justice.
Adam and Warren were already planning on going to the Hell House before Adam’s father suggested it. It was, after all, the first year that Spring Valor Trinity Church was putting on a Hell House. That was a serious deal for that town. The whole thing was the love child of Pastor Peterson and his son. They were certainly qualified to put on a show that was meant to scare the shit out of kids. Misery and suffering were their forte.
The concept was simple. Some high-schoolers would act out skits where bad things happened to sinful people. Gay kids would contract AIDS. Promiscuous girls would be raped. Girls would die in spectacularly bloody fashion while getting abortions. There were many other lovely vignettes. Nothing illustrates God’s perfect love more than a teenager acting out a skit where the character commits suicide because they used drugs.
How could they miss it? It would be the perfect forum for the two gay kids to give Fundamentalist fascists a taste of their own medicine. It was Halloween. Everyone would be wearing masks, except for the students working the show. The church had sold hundreds of tickets. The gig would be absolutely jam-packed.
The venue for the Hell House was just the school, a small, one-story building with a couple of long hallways, decorated to look scary. The hallways were blocked so that the spectator pathway was one continuous, zig-zagging line, that the patrons would walk along while they went from skit to skit. There was only one way in and one way out for visitors. However, the staff had exit doors. Some opened to the outside, while others opened to parts of the building that weren’t used for the event.
The first phase of their plan was complete. Adam had a knack for explosives. That was the one thing that his father considered “manly” about him. A copy of The Anarchist’s Cookbook always stayed under his mattress. He’d already done the prep that afternoon, before he left school. The forecast predicted zero chance of rain, so he didn’t have to worry about anything getting wet before the big day.
First, the power would go out. Then, Adam would cue the smoke. The fumes would push all the workers out the side doors, just like cows at a slaughterhouse. Thanks to the set locations for each skit, Warren and Adam knew exactly what door Tommy and his goons would open. They’d be waiting, ready.
Warren would pick him up after school, away from any nosy eyes. They’d put on their outfits and wait to strike.
Payback’s a bitch, motherfucker.